Fraudsters target social media users for money for non-existent charities

Social media
Social media

Derbyshire police are teaming up with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to raise awareness of a scam which sees people being conned out of money for non-existent charities.

Fraudsters are believed to be using social media sites to encourage users to donate money to help to support animal welfare charities overseas that do not exist.

The NFIB has discovered that the criminal groups are often based in Spain or Cyprus and are using social media to target donors from the UK.

The money is then laundered from the UK to overseas and rather than be used to tackle animal cruelty it is simply used to support a criminal lifestyle in the sun. They will canvass for contributions through their existing social networks which will expand over time, attracting more donors.

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.

Other signs to look for include:

- 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 to confirm they are authentic. You can call them on their helpline 0845 300 0218 or by visiting charity-commission.gov.uk, where they have an online charity register.

- 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 in emails and other documents, including collection envelopes.

- 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 gain further information from the government website - www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission/about.

- If you have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

For more advice around fraud, visit the dedicated Stamp out Fraud webpage at www.derbyshire.police.uk/stampoutfraud.