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Fake Charities

Scammers take advantage of the generosity and open heart of philantropic people to make them victims of fake charity scams.

They usually impersonate genuine charity organizations with fake documents, websites or social media pages and seek for donations or contact you claiming to collect money after natural disasters, wars or major events.

How this scam works

Fake charities attempt to take advantage of your generosity and compassion for others in need. Scammers will steal your money by posing as a genuine charity. Not only do these scams cost you money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.

Fake charity approaches occur all year round and often take the form of a response to real disasters or emergencies, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires.

Scammers will pose as either agents of legitimate well-known charities or create their own charity name. This can include charities that conduct medical research or support disease sufferers and their families. They may also pose as individuals needing donations for health or other reasons.

Scammers may also play on your emotions by claiming to help children who are ill.

Fake charities operate in a number of different ways. You may be approached on the street or at your front door by people collecting money. Scammers may also set up fake websites which look similar to those operated by real charities. Some scammers will call or email you requesting a donation.

Medical help for poor children

Medical help scams are very prevalent in our society due to the lack of adequate medicare; the scammers play on your emotions by claiming money to help poor children who are ill. They clone the websites of real charities and ask for money claiming that some poor children are in need of  their help to get an open heart surgery or kidney transplant that costs a large amounts of money. 

Solicitations for military families:

People have been scammed using this scheme concerned with seeking help for the families of fallen officers and men. Many genuine charities are supporting such families and people are very active in lending their helping hand to them but scammers have not left this area too. The con artists divert your donations with no concern or regard, leaving the families stranded. 

Warning signs

  • You've never heard of the charity before, or it is well-known but you suspect the website, email or letter may be fake. A fake website may look almost identical to a legitimate charity site, changing only the details of where to send donations.
  • The person collecting donations on behalf of the charity does not have any form of identification. Remember, even if they do have identification, it could be forged or meaningless.
  • You are put under pressure or made to feel guilty or selfish if you don’t want to donate.
  • You are asked to provide donations via virtual currencies, E-currencies, Wire transfers, Cash etc. as they don't accept cheques. Or, they want the cheque to be made out to them rather than to the charity.
  • You are not given a receipt. Or, they give you a receipt that does not have the charity’s details on it.
  • The fake charities are not registered

Protect yourself

  • Approach charity organisations directly to make a donation or offer support.
  • Check the organisation's name and look them up. Check the website address to make sure it’s the same as what you searched for.
  • Legitimate charities are registered – you can check an organisation’s credentials on the corperate affairs commission's website to see if they are a genuine charity.
  • Never send money or give personal information, credit card details or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • If you are approached by a street collector, ask to see their identification. If you have any doubts about who they are, do not pay.
  • If you are approached in person, ask the collector for details about the charity such as its full name, address and how the proceeds will be used. If they become defensive and cannot answer your questions, close the door.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin or other E-currencies. It is rare to recover money sent this way.

Have you been scammed?

If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

We encourage you to report scams to us via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screenshot.

We also provide guidance on protecting yourself from scams and where to get help.

Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.

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