An “every child matters” orange shirt scam is circulating, warns the Better Business Bureau.
It’s aiming to turn a profit using Indigenous charity claims while communities grieve the 215 children whose remains were found buried near the former Kamloops residential school late last month.
“Opportunists trying to take advantage of a horrible tragedy is nothing new,” said Karla Laird, senior manager for media and communications at BBB, in a news release.
Laird said the consumer watchdog received a report of a Facebook ad selling T-shirts with the promise of all the proceeds going to the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Society.
However, that promise unraveled quickly when the consumer clicked on the advertisement and it brought them to the website of a T-shirt seller, Tee Toro, and no mention of the charity.
The phone number and address listed on Tee Toro’s website belong to an unrelated wholesale shirt printing company in Florida, called Viral Style.
“It is believed that Tee Toro has hijacked Viral Style’s address and contact information to appear legitimate to unsuspecting consumers,” Laird said of BBB’s findings.
“There have also been several consumer warnings on other platforms about Tee Toro, where consumers report making purchases of up to $54 USD and nothing was delivered.”
The orange movement was inspired by six-year-old Phyllis Webstad, who wore an orange T-shirt shirt on her first day at a residential school in Williams Lake. The shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her by school officials in 1976.
Consumers can protect themselves from scams by following these BBB tips:
Check out the stated charity. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency to confirm if the organization is a registered Canadian charity under the Income Tax Act using the registration number on its website.
Get details before purchasing merchandise. Get background information before donating.
Do not click pop-ups, be wary of sponsored ads soliciting donations. Scammers will use catchy headlines and images to entice people to click on ads that redirect them to fraudulent websites.
Be wary of questionable and unsolicited emails. Watch out for spam messages and emails that claim to link to a recognized organization. Hover your mouse over a link to determine its true destination.
Think twice about unknown social media appeals. Watch out for private messages soliciting your support. Stay away from any offers and invitations that sound like a quick way to get money or benefits or require cash.
Exercise caution on crowdfunding sites. If you decide to contribute through crowdfunding, it is safest to give to people you personally know.
Use a credit card. Avoid donating cash and be wary if a platform asks you to contribute using gift cards, wire and email transfers or cryptocurrency.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1 (866) 925-4419. The KUU-US Crisis Line Society’s 24-hour line is at 1-800-588-8717.
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