Scams in Focus – Ukrainian War Scams

There is always someone out to exploit a situation and the Ukrainian War is no exception.  There are currently 3 specific scams doing the rounds with the fraudsters hoping to exploit people’s generosity and desire to help. 

Most of the scams are the same in principle and it is just the cause that changes, and this is no exception.  So the general types of scams are:-

  1. Businessman trying to get cash out of the county
  2. Donations to charity
  3. Give me money directly as I am poor

Now let’s go into them in more detail.

The first one is the Businessman trying to get his money out of the country.  This works by you thinking you are helping someone stuck in the Ukraine who has built their business up from scratch and now, due to this war, which they can do nothing about, they are going to lose everything.  Is it tugging at your heart strings yet?  It is mine, and it is meant to, as we all want to help, and it is difficult not to get sucked in. How does this scam work then?  While you think you are helping them get their money out of the Ukraine into a bank account in a different country, the scammers are, in fact, working to get as much information about you and your bank account as possible so they can drain your account. How can you spot this? This will usually be via email, and it will be a Phishing email, sent out to thousands of people to see who responds.  A question for you to think about: How would a Ukrainian Businessman have my email address?

We all donate to charities, and we generally donate to charities we know such as Age UK, Cancer Research UK or Air Ambulance, and we all know these are legitimate or know how to check they are.  But, due to the unexpected crisis in the Ukraine, charities are popping up all over the place and we want to get involved and help and are keen to donate items or money to help the Ukraine in any way we can. However, some of these charities are not charities and the money is going into the scammer’s pocket.  How can we protect ourselves?  There are great charities out there doing great work and of course we want to support them, but we can do this best by making sure our money is going to where it is needed. Ask what you can do to help at your local library or food bank as they will know who is collecting what and what is needed.  There is no point in having a stockpile of perishables if the next shipment isn’t for a week.  Ask what is needed and donate that.  Items that are donated that the charity can’t use must be disposed of as waste, and that is at the charity’s cost.

And the last one, is “I am in the Ukraine, I can’t feed my family, will you help?” You want to, but, unfortunately, they are still in the Ukraine, so you must send them money directly.  You don’t know who you are sending the money to.  Donate to a charity like, The British Red Cross, UNICEF or Christian Aid, who are likely to be on the ground in the country helping those who need it.  Donate to a charity which is known to you or you can check their legitimacy by Searching the Charity Commission register .

As with the Businessman scam, contact will usually be via email and it will be a Phishing email, sent out to thousands of people to see who responds.  And you also need to think about the same question: How would a person in Ukraine have my email address?

We all want to help, but please be safe doing so.  You can always check the Action Fraud website for advice, but in the meantime, here are a few of their tips.

  • Never click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails or respond to unsolicited messages asking for personal or financial details – even if they are in the name of a charity. 
  • To donate online, type in the address of the charity website rather than clicking on a link. 
  • Be cautious when donating to an online fundraising page – fake ones are often badly written or contain spelling mistakes. 
  • A representative said: “The links in the emails lead to malicious websites that are designed to steal your money and personal information.”. 
  • When donating, check the charity’s name and registration number on the Charity Commission website. 
  • Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
  • According to the Charity Commission, the most efficient and helpful way to support those in need is to give money to established, registered charities with experience delivering humanitarian aid.

For mail scams please contact Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or on their website Contact the consumer helpline – Citizens Advice  .

If you, or any of your friends, has been a victim of a phone or online scam, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Contact Action Fraud .