Hurricanes can bring out the best in people: welcoming evacuees into their homes, helping neighbors clean up or rebuild, volunteering to assist with relief efforts.
They also can bring out the worst: fights over water or gasoline, looting, price-gouging.
At the nexus of the two are scammers preying on people’s generosity for their own personal gain.
A particularly devious example surfaced Monday.
ABC Action News chief meteorologist Denis Phillips, whose frequent posts are a source of comfort for many during hurricane season, posted on Facebook that someone posing as him had asked people for money to fund a fraudulent Bahamas hurricane relief site.
In a post published around 10 p.m. Monday, Phillips warned his Facebook followers about the scam, cautioning, “DO NOT SEND THEM ANY MONEY.” He shared a link to a story about trusted sites and organizations where people can donate to help hurricane victims.
“I can’t believe I have to write this,” Phillips began. “This is so disheartening.”
Phillips is known for his hurricane rules, intended to lessen hype about approaching storms and “ease a few folks minds," he writes on his Facebook page. He is best known for his rule No. 7: “Stop freaking out ... until I tell you to. We’re fine.”
2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane
PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm
PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job
NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter