Charity Scams


An introduction to charity scams

Charity scams are amongst the most revolting of all internet frauds, preying as they do on the generosity of people and willingness to help those less fortunate than themselves. After each natural disaster or tragic event such as Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami or 9/11, we have seen scammers asking for charitable donations, usually within the first 24-48 hours. While everyone else is trying to get over the shock and starting to think about how to help, the scammers are exploiting it to make money. It’s hard to see how fraud could get more despicable than that.

How fake charity scams usually work

Reputable charities rarely ask for donations via email, and are much more likely to write to you or collect on the street. When there is a tragedy, real charities are even less likely to email, because they get plenty of spontaneous donations from the generous public. If you get an email asking for money, start from the point of view that it is almost certainly a scam. If it asks for donations solely through a money transfer service such as Western Union or Moneygram, it’s definitely a scam. Legitimate charities can accept donations by any number of methods, and do not depend on anonymous money transfers.

Charities anywhere in the world almost invariably have to be registered with government regulators. In the US, each state has different requirements for registration, but you can find out who controls registration and oversight of charities in your state at the National Association of State Charity Officials website here. In England and Wales, charities have to be registered with the Charities Commission, which maintains a searchable database here. For Scotland, you need to start here and for Northern Ireland, the regulator is here.

Check the address of any website you are given in an email soliciting for donations. Don’t click on the links themselves. Scammers spoof the links so that they go to a different site than the one it appears to be. For example, the scammer could set up a site that looks very like the real Red Cross site, with a similar spelling such as redcrosss.org or the link could redirect you to somewhere else entirely. If you want to support a genuine charity named in an email, make sure that you find the right site. Search for the charity’s name using an internet search engine, or type the proper name into your browser address window, making sure you have the correct spelling.


More information on charity scams and how to be safe

Federal Trade Commission guidance for consumers

Australian govt site Scamwatch’s advice

Advice from CNN on spotting scams

Scambusters information

Charity regulators in the US and UK

US – National Association of State Charity Officials home page

England & Wales – Charity Commission’s search facility

Scottish regulator

The regulator of N Ireland

Charity scam news items

UK government news network – Fake Red Cross charity

ABC News – Fake Hurricane Katrina charity scam

VNU Net – Virginia Tech shooting charity scam

BBC News – Indonesian Tsunami charity scam

Examples of fake charity scam emails

A fake church asking for charitable donations

Standard non-specific charity scam

Scammer says they have money to give to charity – a standard advance fee fraud

Learn about scammers’ fake sites at aa419. Report scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Centre at IC3.


Examples of fake charity scam emails

Subject: Dearly Beloved

My Dearly Beloved, It is by the grace of God that I received Christ,having known the truth,I had no choice than to do what is lawful and right in the sight of God for eternal life and in the sight of man for witness of God´s mercy and glory upon my life.

I am Mrs Melissa Pointer the wife of Mr Harry Pointer,my husband worked with the Chevron/Texaco in Kenya for twenty years before he died in the year 2001.We were married for ten years without a child.My Husband died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.Before his death we were both born again Christians.

Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of US $3.5M.(Three Million Five Hundred Thousand U.S.Dollars) with a Bank in Europe.Presently,this money is still with the Bank and the management just wrote me as the beneficiary to come forward to sign for the release of this money or rather issue a letter of authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf if I can not come over.

Presently,I’m in a hospital in Kenya where I have been undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer.I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few weeks to live.It is my last wish to see this money distributed to charity organizations any where in the World.Because relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness,I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them.

Please,I beg you in the name of God to help me Stand and collect the Funds from the Bank. I want a person that is God fearing that will use this money to fund churches,orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth.I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers.I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner.Hence the reason for taking this bold decision.I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going.I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord.

Exodus {14 VS 14}says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my soundless voice and presence of my husband’s relatives around me always.I don’t want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of my attorney who is in Europe as he will be the one to assist you in laying claims for this funds.

Your’s Truly,
MRS.Melissa Pointer.

Scam email sent from fraudsters claiming to be from Red Cross International, asking recipients to donate money to tsunami victims via money transfer.

Subject: PLEASE HELP TSUNAMI VICTIMS, HELP TSUNAMI VICTIMS

HELP TSUNAMI VICTIMS, HELP TSUNAMI VICTIMS.

THE RED CROSS INTERNATIONAL AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS ZONE (B) HEREBY APPEALLING TO YOU FRIENDS,PUBLIC,FAMILIES AND COMPANIES, TO HELP US WITH ONLINE FUND RAISING TO ENABLE US TREAT OVER 1.5 MILLION CHILDREN AFFECTED WITH QUAKE/TSUNAMI DESASTER ACROSS ASIA.VISIT WWW.CNN.COM/TSUNAMI TO SEE WHY YOUR HELP/MONEY IS HIGHLY NEEDED.

HELP THE NEEDY,POOR AND SICK,NO AMOUNT IS SMALL FOR GOD LOVES A CHEERFULL GIVER. IN ORDER TO EXPEDITE THE SENDING OF THE RELIEF FUNDS TO THE NEEDY URGENTLY, YOU ARE ADVISED TO SEND US YOUR DONATION/CONTRIBUTION IN HOLLAND BY EXPRESS MONEYGRAM TRANSFER SERVICES ( www.moneygram.com ) OR WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER ( www.westernunion.com ) THROUGH THE NAME OF OUR FINANCIAL OFFICERS MRS ( LILIAN DAVID ) AND MR ( ROBERT JOHN ) RESPECTIVELY.

YOU ARE ADVISED TO RESPOND BACK TO US THROUGH THIS EMAIL ADDRESS AND PROVIDE US WITH THE TRANSFER DETAILS INCLUDING YOUR CONTACT ADDRESS ON OUR OFFICIAL E-MAIL ADDRESS: [REMOVED]

N.B,DONATORS FROM 100 TO 4500 EUROS WILL ONLY HAVE THEIR NAMES APPEARED IN OUR RELIEF MAGAZINES AND WEBSITES WHILE THOSE DONATIONS ABOVE ( 5000 EUROS) TO ANY AMOUNT WILL HAVE A SPACE FOR THEIR FOTOS,NAMES AND BUSINESS ADVERTS IN OUR MAGAZINES AND WEBSITES AS DOES IN THE PAST YEARS.FOR THE LATER (VIP)S PLEASE SEND US YOUR FOTOS AND BUSINESS DETAILS.

WE AWAITS YOUR URGENT RESPONSE AND THANKS FOR YOUR CO-OPERATIONS AND GENEROSITY TO MANKIND.

YOURS SINCERELY,

JANZEN HALL

RELIEF COORDINATOR.

Scammers trying to pull a sick childrens scam, and in doing so, abusing the name of this real childrens charity who’s name they used, Noma – Facing Africa and the Facing Africa’s scam warning page concerning this email below.

Good Day Sir/Madam,

Please permit me to bring your attention to this illness called Noma. Noma (cancrum oris) is an acute and ravaging gangrenous infection affecting the face. The victims of Noma are mainly young children caught in a vicious circle of extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition.

Noma begins with ulcers in the mouth. If the condition is detected in the early stage, progression can be prevented with the use of common antibiotics and immediate nutritional rehabilitation. If left untreated, as happens in most cases, the ulcers progress to Noma at an alarming pace. The next stage is extremely painful when the cheeks or lips begin to swell and the victim’s general condition deteriorates. Within a few days, the swelling increases and a blackish furrow appears and the gangrenous process sets in and, after the scab falls away and a gaping hole is left in the face. It is estimated that the mortality rate reaches up to an alarming 90%.

Survivors, those whose pitiful faces can be seen on these pages, can arguably be described as the fortunate ones. However, their lives will never be the same and they will suffer three main afflictions – facial disfigurement, functional impairment and social outcast.

The scar tissue restricts jaw movement and a child who survives is unlikely ever to be able to speak or eat normally again. In infancy, some children lose their lips and soon die of starvation, as they are unable to breast-feed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates an annual incidence of 500,000 victims world-wide. This means that around 450,000 children aged between infancy and puberty will die each year, mainly in sub-Saharan countries from Senegal to Ethiopia, a region also known as “the Noma belt”. To this development i am asking you to join the fight against Noma.Now, we have
5,000 children waiting to undergo this surgery at the cost of 1,000euro per Child. Please in any way that you can help a child to undergo this surgery will be appreciated.

if your interested in helping this children Please provide me with:

1.Your Name…………..

2.Your Location………

3.Your phone Number with international dialing code……….

I await your Reply.

Best regards
Allen Robert
Assistant Director Facing Africa.