"We will not permit profiteers to deceive the public with deceptive appeals for charitable donations," Chiesa said in the announcement. According to the state, the group's website conveys the mistaken impression that it's affiliated with the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund — a legally registered charity headed by first lady Mary Pat Christie.
"Disasters are when the scammers and thieves really come out," said Ken Berger, chief executive of Glen Rock-based Charity Navigator, which evaluates the financial health, accountability and transparency of 6,000 of the largest U.S. charities.
"There are millions, if not billions, of dollars in disaster money, and the donors are making fast decisions and give more impulsively than normal," Berger said. "It is a tremendous opportunity for someone with a sound-alike name and a website they throw up overnight to start pitching. People want to act fast, and they don't do their research."
Charity Navigator's website, charitynavigator.org, lists more than 40 charities the group recommends to donors who want to help the Sandy recovery effort.
"People give from impulse, especially in a disaster, and a little research can go a really long way in maximizing the chance that you are going to give to a high-performing, mission-driven organization, rather than to one that is either a scam or not performing well," Berger said.
E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bethfitzgerald8