With donations to Ukrainian causes rising – scammers aren’t very far behind. The Ukrainian government has been accepting cryptocurrency as a form of donation, but with the uncertainty and confusion behind cryptocurrency and the war in Ukraine, scammers have quickly latched on to this information to create a new scam to pull on the heart strings of donors.
BBB has received reports of scammers creating social media posts or sending direct messages soliciting donations for Ukrainian relief organizations. They say all the funds raised will benefit refugees or residents of the war-torn country. They ask for donations in the form of cryptocurrency – which they say is the preferred payment of the Ukrainian government. The trick comes when the donation is sent to the scammer’s cryptocurrency wallet instead of the official Ukrainian government wallet. And donors may never even know the funds land in the pocket of a scammer instead of helping those in need.
Before giving, BBB recommends visiting Give.org for tips on ways to help legitimate Ukraine relief activities. Give.org notes that not all relief organizations will be able to provide timely assistance unless they already have a presence in Ukraine. For additional advice as well as a list of BBB Accredited Charities that meet all 20 BBB Charity Standards raising funds to help, visit Give.org.
Use BBB’s tips to donate wisely with cryptocurrency:
• Is the charity experienced in providing emergency relief? Experienced disaster relief charities are the best bet to help deliver aid as soon as possible. New charities may have difficulty in following through even if they have the best of intentions.
• When donating using cryptocurrency, do an online search of the wallet address. Confirm that you’re sending money to the real address. Anyone can create websites and social media posts requesting cryptocurrency donations. If someone got in touch out of the blue to ask for money, even a donation, it might be a scam. Remember that cryptocurrency payments are not easily reversible and you can’t get the money back unless someone sends it back to you (which a scammer isn’t likely to do).
• Research the charity with BBB. BBB provides information on about 11,000 national and local charities. Check out a charity with BBB at Give.org to see if they meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
• Confirm the charity’s exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem. Thousands of charities have “cancer” in their name, for example, but no connection with one another. Make sure you’re donating to the charity you intend to.
• Does the appeal make exaggerated financial claims such as “100% will be spent on relief.” Charities have fundraising and administrative expenses. Any charity claiming otherwise is potentially misleading the donating public. Even a credit card donation will have a processing fee.
For more tips from BBB, visit BBB.org. And if you spot a scam, whether you have lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.
Rick Walz is the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana, which serves 23 counties. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.