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During Ukraine crisis, cyber experts warn about fake charities

'There's a big, big amount of money to made,' cyber security expert warns
Posted at 4:03 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 17:45:25-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Be careful who you donate to. That's the warning from a cyber security expert when it comes to helping the people of Ukraine.

Many see what's happening in Ukraine and want to help. But experts caution you to stay on high alert, especially when you see ads popping up on your phone.

Some are real charities, but others are scams.

"There's a big, big amount of money to be made," David Anefils, a cyber security expert with SupportClub.com, said.

Bogus charities materialize online after a high-profile crisis, according to cyber security experts.

"Bad actors, hackers, scammers, they're going to find a way to satisfy their need to make money," Anefils said.

Anefils said copycat organizations may use names similar to a well-known charity to confuse you.

Before you donate, make sure the charity to which you are giving is the charity you think it is.

"You can receive something in the mail from the Salvation Army, or an email that says TheSalvationArmyFlorida.com," Anefils said. "But that is just them taking 'the Salvation Army' and adding either a string of numbers or a string of names behind it to try to make it look legit."

The Federal Trade Commission advises not to pay with wire transfers or gift cards. Scammers ask you to pay that way because these payment methods are hard to track.

The FTC said the safest way to donate is by credit card or check, after you vetted the charity.

Additional resources to check on a charity's rating are Charity Navigator or Give.org.

The FTC suggests searching the organization online and including words like "review," "scam" or "complaint" before sending any money.