Beware scammers looking for Notre-Dame donations, BBB warns

Emotions are still running high after Monday's devastating fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris — and that makes those hoping to help with restoration efforts a target for scammers, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been pledged from around the world to help rebuild the cathedral, but the bureau is warning Canadians to hold off donating until an established charity has been set up.

The building's spire and roof were destroyed in the flames, and there are estimates it will take at least five years to restore.

"Every time something tragic takes place on the global scene, it attracts attention not only from the general public but also from scammers," said Karla Davis, manager for community and public relations at BBB.

"We've already started to see fundraising efforts on social media but at the same time these are not official charities," Davis added.

"We're encouraging the public to wait until an established Notre Dame Cathedral rebuilding fund or charity has been established so that we don't end up contributing to scammers."

Benoit Labonne

Red flags

The BBB is in contact with officials in France and is compiling a list of places where people can donate.

In the meantime, Davis urged would-be donors to be aware of red flags before handing over any money.

"Get the exact name of the charity," she said.

"How is this particular charity going to ensure that your money goes towards the rebuilding effort? What is their connection to the cathedral?"

And know the facts of what happened, she emphasized.

"In this particular case, no lives were lost. No one was left homeless," she said.

"If you're looking at anything that would suggest otherwise, or a charity that is doing anything other than rebuilding, that would be a red flag."