The Democratic attorney general cautioned that "scammers often use incidents of crisis to perpetuate frauds to divert donations away from the intended recipients" and directed anyone considering making a donation to organizations purportedly assisting victims of what James described as a "hate-filled terror attack in Buffalo" to first consult her office’s charitable giving tips before donating.
"In the wake of tragedies, like the horrific shooting in Buffalo, scammers often take advantage of acts of kindness for personal gain," James said in a statement. "As New Yorkers from every corner of the state show their support and solidarity with the Buffalo community, I urge them to be careful of sham charities and make sure they give to trustworthy organizations and groups. I join the whole Buffalo community and the entire state of New York in mourning this senseless, hate-filled act of terror."
James recommended donors carefully review information about charities before giving, explaining that charities are required to register and file financial reports with the Office of the Attorney General's Charities Bureau if they solicit contributions from New Yorkers. Another tip is to ask how donations are going to be used, specifically what organization or entity will receive the money and what programs it conducts or what services it provides. James said to carefully vet newly formed organizations and be cautious of anyone soliciting personal information over email or donations through social media, text message or other fundraising sites.
The attorney general said to avoid giving cash donations and instead to make checks payable to charities or use verified online websites.
According to officials, accused gunman 18-year-old Payton Gendron traveled for several hours Saturday to Buffalo, New York, where he planned an attack on Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue in a predominantly Black neighborhood. He allegedly shot and killed 10 people, and three others were wounded. Authorities said 11 victims in the attack are Black and two of them are White.
Gendron allegedly wrote a roughly 180-page manifesto saying he identifies as a White Supremacist, and he fears White people are in the process of being replaced by people of other races.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Saturday night that the Department of Justice is investigating the Buffalo shooting as a "hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism."
Fox News’ Adam Sabes and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.