By Samuetta Hill Drew
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of this year, a massive worldwide outpouring of financial support for the Ukrainian people has occurred. This type of giving atmosphere excites scammers. They see it as a great opportunity to use your compassionate spirit for their financial gain. The war may be 6,000 miles away, but many of you have felt it in your wallets through fake emails and/or social media sites.
It is important to be wary of a weird and unfamiliar email or text, especially one asking you to click on a link, but it can be trickier when you are on social media. Never click on links from sources unfamiliar and can’t be verified as legitimate. TikTok has been used extensively during the war. Several of the scams take advantage of the elderly who are not social media savvy.
Some of the scams pretend they are, or a family member is stuck in Ukraine or Poland. They ask for financial assistance to purchase a ticket to get back home. Be extremely careful about making donations to GoFundMe accounts.
Video posts depicting a war background like streets with cars, and the sound of gunfire and screams are often not legitimate. When you look closer the cars have tags from other countries, not Ukraine. With today’s technology, con artists are skillful enough to create videos that appear very real. Therefore, be leery of social media videos using this type of tactic to ask you for a donation.
It is sad to report, but the Ukraine themed phishing emails and websites started showing up shortly after the February invasion. Security researchers say the scam activity is to be expected. They say wars create all the emotional triggers, such as a sense of urgency, that scammers exploit as they try to separate people from their hard-earned dollars.
Ignore any plea from a stranger. Consumers should also delete unsolicited requests for money and steer clear of solicitations that pop up on social media, a popular platform for scammers to exploit.
Therefore, make sure you vet all organizations before giving. There are some legitimate charitable organizations. A simple quick Google search, as well as looking up the organization’s name on GuideStar or Charity Navigator, are excellent places to start.
Scammers are not going away. Social media is their newest and best tool to conduct their scams. Therefore, it is important to Keep an Eye on Safety, so you and your money won’t part into a scammer’s pocket.