Did you know that Americans donate a collective $373 billion to charity every year?
Generosity makes the world go round. Whether it’s helping out an established organization like the Red Cross or donating to a smaller charity through crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, charity is wonderful.
Except when it’s not. Because, sad as it may be, there are hundreds of crooks who hide behind the security of a charitable organization to rob victims of their money. These scammers impersonate well-known charities or create a bogus one, then solicit funds and pocket the cash.
Most recently, scammers have used the Make-A-Wish Foundation as cover for luring victims into losing huge sums of money. This incredible organization is dedicated to granting the most longed-for wish of each terminally ill child. They can make anything happen, from a Disney trip to a baseball that’s autographed and personally delivered by Kris Bryant. Sadly, scammers are now abusing the Make-A-Wish Foundation and our desire to do good to con people out of their money.
Here’s how it works.
The scammer calls the victim and announces that they’ve won hundreds of thousands of dollars in an alleged sweepstakes conducted by Make-A-Wish. The caller claims to be a government representative of the FTC or another federal institution. The “government official” then explains that the “winner” must pay thousands of dollars for taxes and insurance before they can lay hands on their winnings. To make the call seem authentic, it often bears a 202 area code – that of Washington, D.C., which is the headquarters for the FTC and most federal agencies.Of course, there is no sweepstakes and the caller is no government official.
In fact, on the Make-A-Wish website, the organization clearly asserts that it does not conduct sweepstakes, ever. If you fall for the scam and wire your money over or share your personal financial information, you’ll never hear from the caller or your money again.
There are several blinking red lights here that should alert you to the fraudulence of this call.
First, the FTC has more important things to do than hand out sweepstakes prizes.
Second, you should never have to pay money to claim a prize.
And third, no legitimate organization will ask for such large amounts of money to be paid over the phone.
If you’ve been contacted, do your due diligence to stop those crooks from preying on other victims. Report the scam immediately at FTC.gov. Next, let Make-A-Wish know. You can notify them through their website, at FraudAlerts@wish.org. Do your part to prevent these scams from succeeding.
Unfortunately, this latest scam is not the first to use a charity for cover, and it certainly won’t be the last.
If you love giving to charity and helping those who are less fortunate, you may be feeling doubtful now. Going forward, how can you possibly know when a charity that’s soliciting funds is a genuine appeal and when it’s a scam?
As always, SIU Credit Union is here to keep you and your money safe. Follow us on Facebook to know if you’re donating to legitimate charities.