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How to spot scam charity sites for Ukraine
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Security & privacy

Scam alert: How to spot fake Ukrainian aid sites before you donate

Scammers have no shame in exploiting devastating events, natural disasters or human tragedies. Whether it’s the global pandemic or tornados ravaging the Midwest, scammers are always on the lookout for unsuspecting targets.

Not even the tragic events in Ukraine are immune from criminals trying to make a quick buck. There are plenty of legitimate charities desperately in need of funds, but scammers complicate it.

Read on to discover how unscrupulous individuals exploit an international war for financial gain.

Here’s the backstory

As the world tries to come to grips with the recent events in Europe, hundreds of humanitarian workers are on the ground rendering aid. But any tragedy is expensive, not just in the human lives lost but also in medical care and infrastructure rebuilding.

Many charities that work with Ukraine can’t keep up with the need for assistance. So while some are helping to evacuate residents and international citizens, others are looking after the many animals left behind.

The vast majority of charities that need financial assistance are genuine, but unfortunately, others smell the opportunity to make some money. As pointed out by ESET Security, the start of the Ukrainian conflict has seen a spike in fake charities soliciting funds.

Requests for money are often posted to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but some have been making the rounds in WhatsApp groups and email chains.

If you look closely at the fundraising campaigns, you’ll notice that the charities are incredibly vague about how the money will be spent. There will be little information on where it is going or any proof of it being used in Ukraine. It is also not immediately apparent if the campaigns are related to real organizations.

ESET put the following list of questionable domains together to be wary of:

  • help-for-ukraine[.]eu
  • tokenukraine[.]com
  • supportukraine[.]today
  • ukrainecharity[.]gives
  • ukrainesolidarity[.]org
  • ukraine-solidarity[.]com
  • saveukraine[.]today

What you can do about it

There is no problem with donating to charities that help out in conflicts, but you must ensure they are authentic. The easiest way to spot a fake charity or a fraudulent donation request is to check if the post links to a well-known organization or group.

Here are some tips to ensure you’re donating to legit charities:

  • Only donate to authentic charities that are vetted and recognized by international organizations.
  • Never click on an ad or social media post if you want to donate. Instead, after establishing the charity is authentic, donate directly through its website.
  • Don’t entertain requests for donations that involve gift cards or wire transfers.
  • You should also watch for phishing emails and texts. Thieves will undoubtedly send spoofed messages asking for donations to help Ukraine when in reality, the included links will lead to malware infecting your device.

Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance are excellent starting points to find legitimate ways to contribute.

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