The Illinois attorney general said that some survivors of the Highland Park mass shooting have been contacted by scammers. He also warned residents to be cautious about who they donate to.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Wednesday issued the warning urging vigilance following reports that survivors of the shooting have been contacted by potential scammers, who provide “inaccurate and incomplete information” about state assistance available to crime victims.
Raoul is also encouraging Illinois residents to exercise caution before donating to organizations purporting to support victims of the mass shooting.
“As victims of a violent crime – including those affected by the horrific shooting in Highland Park – attempt to recover from trauma, they should not have to sort through misinformation or potential scams relating to programs that may provide assistance in a time of need,” Raoul said.
“I am reminding all Illinois residents to exercise caution, and utilize free information and resources available through the Attorney General’s office to avoid being defrauded by those seeking to take advantage of the gun violence plaguing too many of our communities,” he added.
The attorney general’s office administers the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which provides financial reimbursement to eligible victims of violent crimes in Illinois.
Eligible expenses under the program include costs associated with funeral and burial, lost wages, counseling, medical, hospital and dental costs.
The attorney general’s Crime Victim Services Division has been contacted by a number of family members and friends of victims.
Those individuals reported receiving anonymous calls from people offering to assist them with applications for aid through the Crime Victims Compensation Program.
“Many of the callers misrepresent the program’s eligibility requirements and covered expenses. Attorney General Raoul is urging individuals who receive calls regarding the Crime Victims Compensation Program to verify the call is from the Illinois Attorney General’s office, and if uncomfortable speaking over the phone, to request an in-person appointment,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
Raoul also encourages applicants to be aware that Illinois law prohibits individuals from charging applicants a fee for assistance in filing an application. In addition, state law limits reimbursement to statutorily-determined expenses.
Those who wish to report suspicious contact regarding the program should call the Attorney General’s Crime Victims Assistance Line at 800-288-3368.
Raoul also said that Illinois residents should research organizations prior to making donations to support victims of the Highland Park shooting and other victims of gun violence.
“Ask how much of your donation will go to the charity and how much will be used to pay fund-raising costs. Solicitors must give you this information if you ask. Pay close attention to the name of the charity. Some fraudulent charities use names that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations to mislead you,” the statement said.
“Ask questions about the charity. Donate only when your questions have been answered and you are certain your money will be used according to your wishes. Ask whether the charity is registered with the Illinois Attorney General’s office and what percentage of the money taken in goes to fundraising, administration and charitable programming,” the attorney general’s office added.
Donors should contact the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Bureau to report suspicious solicitations by calling 312-814-2595.