Beware of “fire fundraiser” scams

Opportunistic attention seekers glom on Hoboken Fire Victims

The devastating fire that happened yesterday evening at 300 Washington Street is no laughing matter. An entire building was essentially destroyed, and lives were in jeopardy. Luckily no serious injuries were reported (Fireman broke a hand, various smoke inhalation cases, and it appears at least two cats perished).

But as most good communities are – people tend to reach out and offer help to those that lost everything. “Neighbors helping neighbors.” That is human nature. It’s been like that for as long as humans have been in existence.

However, as society has so-called “advanced,” a new breed of opportunists have emerged: those that prey on these emotionally charged events to take advantage of the situation for their own benefit. And it does not matter whether that benefit is financial, social, egotistical or otherwise. Sort of akin to selling memorabilia at a celebrity funeral.

Attention whores, business scorpions, and political opportunists jump

You know something is entirely wrong – when a select group of Hoboken individuals band together after each weak moment in town – because they’re acting purely in a self-serving manner.

When former scam artist convicts, various lounge owners (in a “struggling” economy) and select politicians all leaping on this opportunity to be involved with a “fundraiser” for victims of this fire – wouldn’t that make you at least think twice about what their intentions really are? Are we that dumb in this sophisticated city that we need such hand-holding to help each other out?

And who starts marketing their businesses & fire fundraisers while the fire is still burning? That sure is a classy move!

While on paper, any so-called “fundraiser” may sound like a nice thing to do – don’t automatically assume it’s on the up and up. Several sources to Hoboken411 have suspected that these fundraisers are more than just that. They serve several purposes: One, to give themselves “free publicity,” next to prop up egos, more media attention – and in some cases, money might get redirected, or used to cover excessive overhead (for example the American Cancer Society is suspected of being a fraud.)

Who needs fundraisers? Just donate individually!

The BEST way to help so called victims of fires like this is to send them money directly. We’re unsure if any of them rent out or not – so perhaps the best bet is to send a check to the condo association – and hope that they’re trustworthy enough to disseminate the funds donated to the individuals that RESIDED THERE and lost their personal belongings and effects, or have no insurance at all.

Below is a list of the property owners and the condo association. Surely mail sent to that address will be held at the post office or safe-keeping. And the checks cashed will certainly come back with a signature on the back so you can verify who received your money.

Home insurance, renters insurance?

On top of this moment being a firm reminder that everyone should have either homeowners or renters insurance, we should also find out which tenants did NOT. Because any charity should likely go to those in real need. Some Hoboken411 readers wonder why anyone needs a fundraiser when each of these people should have had property insurance of some degree. Helping out with a bed or some short term stuff should be fine – but is an all out fund-raising “gala” really necessary?

Additionally – if you see the same set of people involved with every fund raising event time after time – you begin to wonder “what’s in it for them?” Because charitable actions and fund raising without any personal benefit becomes questionable after some time… how can they survive without compensation? Are they all independently wealthy?

All we suggest is you read between the lines before letting your emotions misdirect money from your purses.

11 Responses

  1. LuvsAngel3 says:

    Two of my friends rented with one other guy from the owner of one of the apartments in the building. I’m unaware of how many more residents were renters vs owners. Fortunately for my friends, no one was home at the time of the fire. Hopefully a way to donate directly to the victims can be determined as NO ONE should PROFIT from such a horrific and life altering event.

  2. kooky kat says:

    You act like there is some kind of felon running this charity! 😯

    I feel really bad for the people who’ve been displaced, but did kind of do a double take this morning when it was all over my facebook. Like really? It’s almost like they started after the first spark hit the sidewalk!

  3. Frankie says:

    kk they were marketing it before the fire gutted the building. anything that branco is attached to i walk the opposite way. smells fishy to me.

  4. Evelyn says:

    One free drink? If you really wanted to show charity, why not free open bar? That will certainly get more of a turnout. I also think true charity is done anonymously without the needs for credit or being in the spotlight.

    Some people in Hoboken are really easy to see through.

  5. klaatu says:

    Why was it OK when there was the Beth Mason 1203 Washington Street fire fundraiser a little over 4 years ago? This site supported that event at the Madison Bar and Grill. It was $15 for 1/2 priced well drinks, beer and wine. Just trying to understand what the differences are. I’d like to support the victims the best way possible.

    • hoboken411 says:

      @klaatu – good point, that was indeed over four years ago, and the landscape has noticeably changed. That fundraiser, for one, was the only one of its kind at the time, and managed by a trusted member of the community, not ex-felons or white-knuckled club owners. Plus – it was a bonafide 501(c)3 entity, and an official fund was set up which was tax-deductible. It appeared to be a legitimate operation in my opinion. Additionally, the Madison took a donation at the door (which was matched 100% by the Madison), and they offered 50% drinks all night long – another good charity over offering “one free drink” and charging 500% markup full priced drinks all night after. The Madison stepped up for real. That operation also set up multiple locations to donate other than the bar that was hosting the fundraiser.

      No one else stepped up for the more under-privileged low-income renters at the time, not to mention someone lost their life in that fire.

      But honestly, much has changed in the past four years. The economy, the personalities in Hoboken, and much more.

      You see, you learn a lot as you spend more time in a city like Hoboken. You identify trends, see the tribe-mentality ebb and flow, and connect the dots better as you go along. With that being said, it’s perfectly natural for my perspective to change depending on the circumstances at hand. I suspect that because of the minority aspect of the applied housing individuals that were affected in that fire, that many less “yuppies” would have contributed because they couldn’t relate to “those people” (in their heads). If it wasn’t a white kid that perished, frankly – I think the results would have been different. Yeah, I said that – and I believe that.

      Honestly – maybe I can’t explain to you in exact words the thoughts that go through my head – but I can feel a distinct difference between honest fundraising ventures – and opportunistic ones. And my sentiments when I composed this post today were based on real-time observations that maybe most people don’t pick up on. I felt it was time to at least offer a perspective that people might be thinking, but are afraid to say out loud. Funny thing is – that you don’t know how many folks I’ve spoken with on the streets of Hoboken over the past day and a half that share these observations. I do not speak alone when I say these things.

      Lastly – I wasn’t admonishing charity in general, but rather charities that have a potential special interests or hidden agendas behind them. And it was this time I wanted to offer that alternate perspective rather than blindly supporting something on the surface alone. Consider it an editorial… and thanks for reminding me of 2008.

  6. philthee says:

    Thanks for sharing your viewpoints 411 and I totally agree. Why so many come out from under the sofa cushions when a tragedy happens boggles the mind. Where were they prior? Plotting their next scam is likely the correct answer.

    At least we know where this sweaty fat idiot was, he was waltzing around in a superhero costume. And he expects residents to trust him with money? What is happening to this city?

  7. HomeTeam says:

    He will also run afoul of DC Entertainment & Warner Bros. Studios if he uses the Batman & Robin costumes to promote the event.

  8. whatsup123 says:

    I think some people just want to get involved and really love volunteering. In other words, they go a little crazy.

    That said, I do not want to support inappropriate behavior.

    Posters – Who are you talking about so I can avoid! Please advise!

  9. animal_lover says:

    I agree w the point of the same individuals and groups taking a proactive self-serving position. They congratulate themselves in advance and never do any look back to see if they actually helped any one (other than themselves). Years back the kudos in the local paper were written by those who were genuinely served – not as a self promotion.

    And 411, Kudos to you for bringing this up! It has gotten WAAAAAY out of hand.

  10. Stpaddygirl says:

    Somewhat confused about the felon part but guess I will figure it out eventually. Nice to see drop off points all over town for clothing, etc.

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