Fraud and cybercrime experts are warning the public to be on their guard, following reports of social media platforms are being used to attract members of the public to donate money to animal welfare charities overseas that do not exist.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has discovered that criminal groups based in Spain or Cyprus are using social media to target donors from the UK.
The money is then laundered from the UK to overseas where rather than be used to tackle animal cruelty it is simply being used to support criminal lifestyles.
The perpetrators canvass for contributions through existing social networks which will expand over time, attracting more donors.
The NFIB have been informed that the people committing this fraud are merely supplementing their income as they are always linked to organised crime groups in the UK and overseas.
Sometimes the article or post on social media may indicate the payments are for charitable organisation or a “worthy cause”. Sadly not in all instances are these genuine, and if any doubt please undertake your own due diligence.
Action Fraud has issued the following advice:
Genuine charities are registered with the Charity Commission and print their registration details on all documentation, collection bags, envelopes, electronic communications etc. Check these details exist and also contact the Charity Commission (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission) to confirm they are authentic.
If the collection is for a charity you know is genuine, check the collection is authorised by asking the charity directly, using contact details from the phone book or a website that you know is genuine.
Watch out for poor grammar and spelling.
Send your donation to the charity directly. This may mean going to a little more trouble, but at least you can be sure your donation will get to where it’s intended.
If you have any concerns you can also get further information from www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission/about