FBI warns of scammers soliciting donations related to the crisis in Ukraine
The FBI is warning the public of fraudulent schemes seeking donations or other financial assistance related to the crisis in Ukraine.
“Criminal actors are taking advantage of the crisis in Ukraine by posing as Ukrainian entities needing humanitarian aid or developing fundraising efforts, including monetary and cryptocurrency donations,” according to the FBI advisory.
Scammers similarly have used past crises as opportunities to target members of the public with fraudulent donation schemes.
The FBI offers the following tips on how to protect yourself:
- Be suspicious of online communications claiming to be individuals affected by the conflict in Ukraine and seeking immediate financial assistance.
- Although the Ukrainian Government and other private organizations do maintain official donation mechanisms, be cautious and verify information about entities purporting to solicit aid for causes linked to the crisis in Ukraine. If an entity asks for donations to specific cryptocurrency addresses, be cautious, always carefully check if the addresses are legitimate, and compare the address alphanumeric characters to any known official addresses.
- Do not communicate with or open texts, emails, attachments, or links from unknown individuals posing as Ukrainian entities in need of humanitarian aid.
- Do not send payments to unknown individuals or organizations asking for financial assistance.
- Best practices to verify charities include, but are not limited to, researching the charity online to see if there are news, reviews, or posts linking the charity to fraud; checking to see if the charity is registered with your state’s charity regulator, if available; and checking the Internal Revenue Service’s website (https://www.irs.gov) to see if the charity is registered.
If you believe you have been a victim of a financial internet scam or a fraudulent scheme related to the Ukrainian crisis, file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. If possible, include the following:
- Identifying information about the individuals or charity, including name, phone number, address, and email address.
- Financial transaction information such as the date, type of payment, amount, account numbers involved, the name and address of the receiving financial institution, and receiving cryptocurrency addresses.
- Describe your interaction with the individual, including how contact was initiated, such as the type of communication, purpose of the request for money, how you were told or instructed to make payment, what information you provided to the criminal actor, and any other details pertinent to your complaint.
AARP Hawaiʻi advises that the public should research charities before donating. It’s easy to do at sites like Give.org or Charity Watch. In addition, Charity Navigator has a page specifically dedicated to high-performing charities engaged in relief efforts in Ukraine.