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Experts: Be careful where you donate to help OSU Homecoming victims

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STILLWATER, Okla. - Scammers just love to exploit natural disasters and other tragedies.

We’ve seen it time and again in our state, most recently the tragedy in Stillwater at OSU’s Homecoming Parade.

Kari King is Channel 4's digital content manager.

She says don't give your cash blindly because scammers create fake accounts and websites online.

“I'm not saying be wary of donating, but make sure you're doing some due diligence to dig into exactly where this money is going, how it's going to be used, how it's distributed, who's in charge of it,” King said.

Right after the Boston Marathon bombing, tons of fake Twitter accounts and fundraising sites went up online.

The tragedy in Stillwater also made headlines around the world.

OSU freshman Dominique Davis was at the parade.

“It could have so easily been me and my family that was here,” she said. “It's kind of shocking and it hits you hard.”

She's one of several students to design and sell a t-shirt to raise money for the victims.

“Right now, we've sold 1,311 shirts, which has raised $17,754 profit for the organization,” Dominique said.

The cash is earmarked for the Stillwater Medical Center Foundation.

Executive Director Scott Petty says the Stillwater Strong Fund was created to make one centralized location for all charitable giving.

“We've set up a committee for the Stillwater Strong Fund to be able to distribute to those accident victims to the best of our ability,” he said.

With all of the grassroots fundraising campaigns out there, Petty warns it's impossible to monitor all of them.

“If somebody is raising funds for the purpose of this Stillwater Strong Fund and they're not giving it to us, we won't know it," he said.

They won't call you soliciting donations either.

Dominique says it appears someone's already copied her t-shirt design without permission online.

There's a bunch of t-shirt fundraisers going on right now. Most are legit, but a few are not.

There's also only one official Stillwater Strong t-shirt.

stillwater strong tee

OSU campus groups and Stillwater Medical Center ponied up the cash to buy the shirts.

Stan Clark and Eskimo Joe's are printing them for free, which means victims will receive close to 100 percent of the net proceeds.

“That's probably the orange lining in this cloud,” Petty said. “We've got a lot of folks that want to do something right, want to do it the right way.”

The In Your Corner bottom line:

Anyone can pretend to be someone they're not online.

Thoroughly check out a charity or campaign and give to one your trust.

If you have questions, you may call the SMC Foundation at (405) 742-5387.