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 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 shirt printing company in Florida, 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 shirt movement was inspired by six-year-old Phyllis Webstad, who wore an orange shirt to her first day at a residential school in Mission in 1973. The orange shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her by school officials.
Consumers can protect themselves from scams using the following tips:
Verify the 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 listed on its website.
Do not click pop-ups, be wary of sponsored ads soliciting donations. Scammers will use enticing headlines and images to get people to click on ads that redirect them to fraudulent websites.
Be wary of 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 offers that sound like a quick way to get money, benefits or that require cash.
Exercise caution when crowdfunding. 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, 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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