Va. Attorney General: Be careful about Harvey donations

As Texas recovers from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring is encouraging Virginians to exercise caution as they consider donating money to assist victims in their recovery. Scammers often use natural disasters such as hurricanes to set up fake charities through which the money collected is pocketed by the scammer.

"The images out of Texas are heartbreaking, and Virginians are caring, generous people who want to help their fellow citizens in their times of need," Herring said. "Virginians have to be cautious and smart about their donations because the sad truth is there are pathetic people out there who will try to exploit a disaster like this to line their own pockets. I advise everyone to take the time to research any organization that claims it will be helping victims of Hurricane Harvey to be certain that your money will be used to help those in need and not taken by a scam artist."

Prior to making any contributions, Herring encourages potential donors to take some common-sense precautions. While there are many legitimate organizations that provide relief to disaster victims, there are many con artists that will use the phone, e-mail, U.S. Mail, the internet or personal contact to try to separate you from your money.

Follow these tips when considering a charitable donation:

• Be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with a current event or natural disaster. They may make a compelling case for you to make a donation but even if they are legitimate, they may not have the infrastructure or experience to get your donation to the affected area or people.

• Only give to charities and fundraisers you can confirm are reliable and legitimate. Scrutinize charities with consumer advocates or friends and find out how much of your donation will go to the charity's programs and services.

• On crowdfunding sites:
• Check the creator or page owner's credentials and try to confirm its authenticity and seriousness.
• Look for indicators of endorsement or legitimacy that the page is actually collecting donations for a particular victim or organization. Some sites offer verification and transparency measures for campaigns. Look for those markers of authenticity, and check out the site's fraud protection measures.
• Be cautious, and if you feel uneasy, contribute to a more established charity in the community.

• Beware of "copy-cat" names that sound like reputable charities. Some scammers use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations.

• Be especially cautious if you do not initiate the contact with the charity.

• Do not be pressured into giving. Legitimate organizations will not expect you to contribute immediately.

• Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number. Legitimate organizations will give you materials about the charity's mission, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax-deductible. Just because a "charity" has a tax identification number does not mean your contribution is tax-deductible.

• Avoid cash donations. Make checks payable to the charitable organization and not to an individual collecting a donation. For security and tax record purposes, you may wish to pay by credit card.

• If contributing on the internet, be sure the web site you are visiting belongs to the charity to which you want to donate. See if other legitimate web sites will link to that web site. Make sure the web site is secure and offers protection of your credit card number.

• If a charity is soliciting contributions in Virginia, verify its registration with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs at 804-786-1343, or by searching OCRP's Charitable Organization Database online at http://cos.va-vdacs.com/cgi-bin/char_search.cgi

• While a legitimate charity should be registered with OCRP to solicit contributions in Virginia, registration alone does not mean that the organization will be effective in aiding victims of a particular natural disaster.

You may report charitable solicitation fraud to the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs and the Office of the Attorney General by calling 804-786-1343; online at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/food-charitable-solicitation.shtml; or by mail to Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond VA 23218.
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27


The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair


Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21


Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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October 2017
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Tom Leonard’s will again host its free Friday Night Movie at the Pumpkin Patch at 7 p.m. in the outdoor haybale theater. Tonight’s movie is “Disney’s Adventure of Ichabod & Mr. Toad.” There will be cider and hot chocolate. Friday night movies are held every Friday in October. Tom Leonard’s is located at 4150 Tom Leonard Dr. near Short Pump. For details, call 364-5800 or visit http://www.tomleonards.com. Full text

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