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What Is A Charity Scam-Be Informed And Be Safe

How sad is this? Organizations need our help yet scammers are preying on the unsuspecting person to make a buck. What is a charity scam? Let’s explore this further to provide more information and awareness for safety.

Charity scammers deceive the public with the intention of taking your money for personal gain. Many times groups of people or a person will request donations to a non-existent charitable cause.

Charity fraud may include phantom charities and the use of deceitful business acts. In addition, scammers may use businesses to deceive people to give, but the money does not go for the intended purpose.

A charity scam is one or more lazy people lying to the public to get money to support themselves. In other words, it is the act of deceitful people taking much-needed funds from the community for personal gain.

Charity Scam Discovery

On one of my websites, I use to have a chat box which is an inspiration and personal growth site. So, to the scammer, it may appear the perfect place for someone to attempt an emotional scam.

In the middle of the night, (which usually means the person sending the message is in a foreign country), I received a message on my chat box from a person with a partial face photo of a child. I have to say I was excited that someone was using this message box on my site but I didn’t see it coming but I caught on quickly.

I blocked and reported the person before I took a screenshot of the conversation; with this in mind, I will recount the conversation the best I can. Nonetheless, I will refer to the person as George.

Charity Scam Conversations

George: “I need your help. My mom is sick, and I need your help.”
Me: “ What kind of help do you need?”
George: “She has cancer and my little sister, and I don’t have any way to pay for her hospital bills.”
Me: “Messenger is not a way that I send money.”
George: “I need you to set up a GoFundMe account for people to give money to help us.”
Me: “No, I am not going to help you set up an account.”
George: “You mean, you are just going to let me and my sister suffer while my mom dies of cancer, and you won’t help us.”
Me: “I guess that is what I am going to do.”

Scam Realization

Now by the end of this conversation, I figured out it was a charity scam, and he was attempting to manipulate me, for this reason, I was not pleasant or responsive to him.

After the last statement from me, I blocked and reported him. But what he wanted to accomplish was to play on my emotions and make me feel bad for not helping his dying mom. The money I am sure would not go to anyone other than himself, and I doubt anyone had cancer.

The Laura Method

So what is a charity scam well it is this guy named George manipulating the public for personal gain, with the intention, to get money for himself. In other words, it is George lying to you and me to get money.

Types Of Charity Scams

Fake Charities

People make up a charity and try to get you to donate. They may go door to door and put the pressure on so you don’t have time to check to see if the charity is legit. Usually, they want cash, so you pull out $10 or $20 to donate. Money like this can add up to a large sum if this person visits enough houses.

Charity Scam Look Alike

People will use a reputable charity like a Cancer charity fund. When I looked up cancer charities, I found over 53 listed with different names like Blood cancer research foundation, Breast cancer in young women or Children’s brain cancer foundation. Consequently, a scammer could easily make up a name for any cancer charity and make you believe it is a real foundation.

Street Charity Scam

How often do you see what you think to be a homeless person needing money? Scammers will pose as a homeless person to get donations. In addition, they may attempt to sell CD’s without anything on them. Once you donate you find the CD is blank and you were scammed.

Charity Impersonator

Some scammers will make a call to you saying they are a charitable group and use the name of an actual charity. They insist you give money now over the phone with a credit card because the money is needed so badly. If you do this the scammer now has your money and credit card information. Or they may insist you wire money to them because a wire transfer is non-refundable.

Go FundMe

A person sets up a GoFundMe account and says it is for a specific cause, usually to help with medical bills, but when the money comes in the medical bills are not paid. The scammers often use disaster areas where emotions are high from recent devastation and loss of lives to perform their deceit.

Signs Of A Charity Scam

  • The person threatens you or manipulates you.
  • A scammer gives a sob story to play on your emotions.
  • Requesting you to wire money or provide your credit card information. Wired cash is non- refundable
  • The scammer may try to rush you into giving now, so you do not have time to check to see if the charity is registered.
  • They can not give you specific information about where the donation will go.

How To Avoid A Charity Scam

  • Never give information on the phone, request information to be sent by mail to check the legitimacy of the charity.
  • Do not get sucked into an emotional story. If what you are hearing is moving, and you do not know the person take a step back to re-evaluate the situation without the emotion involved.
  • Do not think that a local number may be a real firefighter or police charity. Scammers can change the caller ID to look local.
  • Never give money if the person is pressuring you to give now
  • Make a list of charities, research each one, and choose your favorite. When you give, please do so directly to that organization.
  • If you are giving to a GoFundMe account make sure you know the person receiving the money

Always check with The Better Business Bureau Wise (BBB) Giving Alliance to see if the charity is registered and where their money goes. Call 703-276-0100 or go to Give.org.
Reputable charities will appreciate the wait rather than losing the financial gift to a scammer.

I have listed three other organizations you can check online to see if a charity is legit and where they spend their donations.

charity scam pin

Final Thoughts

The saddest part about a charity scam is the people who need the financial help of a charity may not be getting it. The scammers are taking the money instead which causes an increase in suspicion about all charities.

Know the signs and how to prevent the mistake of giving to the wrong people, in addition, report it immediately if you know you gave to a scammer.

Please be careful and think before you give, although charities need your gifts, it is vital that the money you give is going to those in need. Please continue to give to charities but do so responsibly and be informed. Protect yourself and the people who desperately need your finances for research and assistance.

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The Laura Method

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18 thoughts on “What Is A Charity Scam-Be Informed And Be Safe”

  1. Thanks for bringing attention to a topic that is needed for many to be aware of. Being scammed leaves such a terrible wake with many being hurt in many ways. One of those ways is also just being embarrassed that they were scammed which makes talking about this topic even harder. 

    Nice job bringing the whole post around to introduce WA as a legitimate opportunity.  

    Reply
  2. It sucks knowing that there are people out there who are willing to go as far as giving you sob stories to manipulating you in giving money to them. There was a time when I was in college, a guy walks around our campus library to ask people to donate money for a charity. But he looked a bit shady and the laminated pamphlet looked very worn, dirty, and not professionally put together so he must have used the same pamphlet for weeks or months. A real charity would have provided him replacements and many copies to give out to share.  Another you might want to share is people with power  who steal money from their charity programs. A principal for a private church school I attended for kindergarten was arrested for taking over $100,000 from the school that was gathered by charitable parents and school funds. I recently heard on the news KQED radio that there are evidence that even our president, Donald Trump, has taken at least millions of dollars from his charity program for his campaign during the 2016 election. Also, there are people with power who use charity for other gains: popularity and more power. I can’t remember the name of some of these fellas but they are out there. So just check and be sure that you know where your money is exactly going and see that it is used for what it is intended.

    Reply
    • The last line of your comment is where it all lies, 

      “So just check and be sure that you know where your money is exactly going and see that it is used for what it is intended.”
       Thank you for sharing this valuable information. 

      Reply
  3. There are lots of fake charity site roaming about to scam people of their hard earned money, I have happened to stumble upon various type of them online they even go as far as creating a website for that purpose and start sending different photos of accident victims etc I almost fell for it but didn’t, now I have seen another on this post. Thanks for putting this word out there for us to learn. Much appreciated! 

    Reply
    • It just shows that anyone can fall for a scam at any time. Thank you for letting us know about this type of scam also. The more knowledge we have the better we can expose them. 

      Reply
  4. Thanks for sharing this story. I’m looking into this because something similar happened to me. 

    I receive an email from this person asking me to help support her education because she is an orphan and goes to school full-time so she cannot work. She kept pestering me and kept asking me, and I was declining politely each time until I just had enough. 

    I then told her that I will not reply to any further emails from her and her emails stopped. I don’t want to point fingers but this person did tell me they were from Nigeria, where these types of scams are common.

    What’s funny with “George” as you call him though, is that he had to have an internet connection to become in touch with you. That’s really all you need to set up a GoFundMe account, so he could have done it himself… lol

    Thanks for spreading awareness.

    Reply
    • I know we try to be polite to these people but they are persistent. And yes that is a very good point about George having internet. I had not considered that. Good to bring this to everyone’s attention. 

      Reply
  5. Web scam is not a new story again. There is no length all these scammers can’t go just to dupe. So, it is good to got educated about how they carry out their operations which is being highlighted out here. It has occurred to me too, though I was naive then, thank God I do not fall victim. All the points stated out here were part of the things that saved me. Good job here. 

    Reply
  6. Thank you, Laura, for this warning and recounting your personal experience.

    Charity scams are right up there with the Nigerian scam except that where the Nigerian scam targets peoples’ greed, charity scams hit people at their emotional level coupled with an attempt to make them feel guilty.

    As you report with George, “so you are just going to let my mother die?”

    Asking you to set up a crowd funding site is a new one on me, however.

    Clearly, the advantage to the scammer is he keeps the money, but when the scam is revealed, you’re the one who’s in trouble and could even be forced to repay the money raised.

    A timely warning indeed.

    Reply
  7. Hi Laura,

    I don’t think that there’s anything as pathetic as someone trying to scam other people by using a fake charity. It’s amazing the levels some people will sink to for money. I knew that they did occur and unfortunately, I have known people that have become victims to them. I really like the tips you provided for how to avoid becoming a victim of these scams. I will definitely share it with those that I know, particularly my older relatives as they tend to target the elderly. Thank you for writing this. 

    Reply
    • Thank you so so much. And thank you for sharing. I would love to get this word out to the world and yes to the elderly. It seems when we get older and don’t get out as much we become an easy target. 

      Reply
  8. I don’t have a personal experience about it but I see this all the time. It so sad people deceive people to get what they want, and take advantage of other people. Honestly scammers make me paranoid somehow. I tend to not trust anything and anyone right away without checking it out. Even random people that approaches me and talks to me in public places, I’m always skeptical. In the back of my mind, I always looking for their real motives. It’s sad, because I truly like to help those in need.

    Reply
    • Oh yes, it is so sad. I know what you mean about being skeptical. I check out absolutely everything now. I hear something new and I am on google checking it out immediately. That is a good point also to bring home to our readers. Check it out first. 

      Reply
  9. It’s painful how people scam others using charity. There are some lines that should never be crossed. I’ve come across many charity scams online, but I just ignore them. Now this can be a problem because the legitimate charity organizations may now be seen as a scam also due to these charity scams. 

    Reply
    • So true, not only are scammers taking money away from the charities but they are making people not trust a real charity. It leaves a bad taste in our mouths when we get hurt like this. 

      Reply

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