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Illinois Attorney General Investigating Popular Washington Tornado Facebook Page

An Illinois leader is investigating a very popular Facebook page that was designed to help victims of Washington's storm.
WASHINGTON – A popular Washington tornado Facebook page is under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General’s office for not having the proper accreditation.

This page has more than 170,000 followers. What’s concerning for the attorney general is the money that’s being raised because of it.

At least one complaint has been filed against the Heroes Memorial Foundation. It’s a Florida organization behind the popular Washington IL Tornado Recovery Facebook page.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she is investigating. She’s questioning the fundraising component of the out-of-state and unregistered group. Under Illinois law, fundraisers and charitable organizations are required to register each year.

In a release to WMBD 31 news, Madigan said, “Unfortunately, in the wake of such devastation, we almost always receive reports of questionable fundraising efforts. I urge anyone who wants to donate to carefully research the organizations they intend to give to.”

We took our questions to the organization’s spokesperson, Paul Hood. He said, “Right now, we are registered with the state of Florida as a non-profit organization and that's where we were chartered from. I know that she's saying they're investigating because we're not registered in the state of Illinois. Our understanding is first of all, we have no physical building or presence in Illinois."

Hood said the foundation filed for a 501C tax status, which is what’s typical for non-profit or charitable groups. However, it has not yet been approved.

Still, they are raising money. Hood said the funds will go to Washington’s first responders.

He said, “What will more than likely happen is the folks who requested assistance will coordinate directly with them. And we're basically come in and say this is how much we got, we're dividing it amongst you folks."

Though the group is not currently in line with Illinois law, Hood said he’s ready and willing to work with the Attorney General. “We will do whatever we need to, if there is an issue we will become fully compliant. It's not our intent to fraud anyone."

Hood said the primary goal of the Facebook page is to give people information. However, he said their sources are residents in Washington and articles they pull from local news media.

What you need to know before donating your money:
-Ask how much of your donation will go to the charity and how much will be used to pay fundraising costs. Solicitors must give you this information if you ask.
-Pay close attention to the name of the city. Some fraudulent charities use names that sound or look like those legitimate organizations to mislead you.
-Ask detailed questions about the charity. Donate only when your questions have been answered and you are certain your money will be used according to your wishes. Ask questions like whether the charity is registered with the Illinois Attorney General office and what percentage of the money the charity takes in goes to fundraising, administration and charitable programming.
-Do not pay in cash. For security and tax record purposes, pay by check. Be sure to write the full official name of the charity on your check, do not abbreviate.
-Request written information. A legitimate charity will provide you with information outlining its mission, how your donation will be distributed, and proof that your contribute is tax deductible.
-Do not donate if the solicitor uses high-pressure tactics, asks for cash payment or insists on sending someone to pick up your donation. These are all hallmarks of scam.
-If you receive an email or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity by contacting the charity or visiting its website.
-Do not assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs, or other social media have already been vetted.
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