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Fake Ukraine charity scams
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Security & privacy

Russia-Ukraine War scams are here – Here’s what to keep an eye out for

There’s no limit to the depths that scammers will sink to find new victims. We saw a rise in scams from the start of the pandemic, and the pattern is continuing today with the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Scammers can target you from anywhere in the world via email, social media, calls and texts. You can be directly targeted or fall victim to a phishing scam, malicious ad, website, or post. Your personal and financial information is at risk, so take great care, especially during times like these. Tap or click here for Kim’s report on 10 Russia-Ukraine war scams to watch out for.

As we predicted and warned you about, the scams are coming in fast. Some are taking advantage of people’s willingness to help the Ukrainian people, while others go after people’s fears. Keep reading for examples.

Charity scams

Humanitarian workers are on the ground helping out where they can and need financial assistance. While most charities seeking aid are legitimate, others are just looking for a payday. We touched on this subject and listed some fake aid websites in a recent report.

Researchers at internet security company ESET have been seeing an increase in websites posing as charities helping out the people of Ukraine and the country at large against the Russian invasion. The following are some examples:

ESET
ESET
ESET

You don’t need to look very close to spot the red flags. Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation can be found throughout the text, along with urgent requests for assistance. And just how will your money be helping out? Charities should be transparent about their goals.

Malicious/scam emails

ESET also warns about emails being sent out pleading for assistance in the form of Bitcoin. A post shared by a Reddit user is a prime example of this scamming method:

NOODLD via Reddit

Researchers at Bitdefender Labs have also been tracking charity crypto scams making the rounds in the wake of the conflict. The Ukrainian government is accepting Bitcoin and Etherium donations and people around the world are opening their virtual wallets.

Scammers are well aware of this development and are creating phishing campaigns to fill their own digital coffers. They are impersonating the Ukrainian government, international humanitarian agency Act for Peace, UNICEF, the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund and other legitimate organizations.

Bitdefender listed the following subject lines to look out for:

  • Stand with the people of Ukraine. Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT.
  • HELP UKRAINE stop the war!
  • Ukraine Humanitarian Donation.
  • Donate to Ukraine, Help save a life: Please read.
  • Urgent! Help Children in Ukraine.
  • Subject: Help Ukraine.

Here are some screenshots of the charity crypto scams:

Bitdefender
Bitdefender
Bitdefender

How to protect yourself

You should always be wary of unsolicited emails, links, messages and social media posts. This is especially important during times of crisis when scammers ramp up their efforts.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid falling victim to these scams:

  • Only donate to authentic charities that are vetted and recognized by international organizations. In the case of the current conflict, look for organizations that either have a presence in Ukraine or are partnered with organizations there.
  • Don’t donate through an ad or social media post. Once you’ve found a legitimate charity, donate directly through its website.
  • If you’re asked to donate via gift card or wire transfer, it’s a fraud.
  • Don’t click links or open attachments that you receive in unsolicited emails and texts. If a message gives you a sense of urgency, delete it. Spelling and grammar errors are also red flags.
  • Use a reliable antivirus. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. TotalAV offers continuous protection from the latest threats and its AI-driven Web Shield browser extension blocks dangerous websites automatically. Go to ProtectWithKim.com now to save 85% on total protection you can trust. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your devices to add an extra layer of security. Tap or click here for details on protecting your online accounts with 2FA.
  • A password manager takes the guesswork out of creating unique and strong passwords that protect your sensitive information. Tap or click here for more on password managers.

Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance are good sources for finding legitimate ways to contribute.

Keep reading

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