Scammers target those wanting to help Gatlinburg fire victims

This is the approved and official T-shirt sold by Project 615 (Courtesy Project 615)
This is the approved and official T-shirt sold by Project 615 (Courtesy Project 615)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/WATE) – It’s not unusual for the “Volunteer State” to help others, but scammers are profiting from people’s good nature.

Project 615, a philanthropic T-shirt and apparel company based in Nashville, created the “Heart for the Smokies” t-shirt after learning of the wildfires in East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains region. The company says 100 percent of the projects will go directly to the Gatlinburg Relief Fund.

The business said they are investigating a fake website claiming to sell their T-shirt and saying the money is going back to Gatlinburg fire victims.

Derek Evans, the co-founder and director of operations of Project 615, said several of their customers alerted them to the fake site, which is not only claiming to sell their shirts, but is also selling colors and styles of T-shirts they do not offer.

Social Media users reported the fake website’s social media pages, which were later taken down, but Evans is encouraging anyone who would like to purchase the t-shirt to go directly to Project 615’s website and is telling people to be on the look-out for more fake sites popping up.

Click here to purchase Project 615’s “Heart For The Smokies” T-Shirt.

“We are trying to just let people know that it is not us,” said Evans.

He said luckily, they have had a lot of their customers get the word out about the fake company on social media.

“We just have watched the news and have seen different people lost not only their homes, but also their friends and relatives and we just thought we had to do something to help,” said Evans. “We’re a company that celebrates all of the good of Tennessee and this is the least we can do.”

Since starting the campaign, Evans said they have risen over $35,000 for the Gatlinburg Relief Fund. He said they sold out at their east Nashville location, but are selling T-shirts online.

“We’ve not really had that happen to us, but this is probably one of the bigger campaigns we have been able to do for a certain situation,” said Evans. “It has been a great campaign for us to be able to give back. It is somewhat viral. It is not really surprising that somebody out there is waiting to ride the coat tails of the people that are really trying to do the right thing.”

Click here to visit the official Project 615 website.

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