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How scammers are taking advantage of the prevailing situation in Ukraine

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

While the world and Europeans are showing solidarity with the Ukrainians, some criminals are launching false donation appeals on social media, by SMS and by e-mail. These calls for donations for Ukraine have been spreading on social media since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. From Twitter to Instagram, through TikTok or Facebook, many of these requests turn out to be pure scams.

Scammers have also used the situation as an opportunity to launch phishing campaigns on companies' and individuals' inboxes. They are using the conflict to trick people out of their money. They create fake charities and then use them to collect donations.

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Mail from a scammer asking for donation

Some scammers will contact you with fake Facebook/Instagram profiles (learn how to spot a fake Facebook profile) with fake stories, telling you how they are stranded somewhere with financial problems.

“Help Ukraine”

Most of these cyber scams targeting donations to Ukraine are carried out on Facebook (Meta). These scams often take the form of sponsored posts that appear on users' news feeds. Moreover, these fraudulent ads are paid for each click of the user's mouse.

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Sponsored post on Facebook asking for donation

Some of them ask you to buy items and tell you that the money collected will be donated to Ukrainians suffering from war.

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Sponsored post asking people to help Ukraine by Purchasing items

Links included in these banners redirect unwary donors to fake websites in order to collect the money directly from donations or purchases. Facebook has tightened its controls in order to remove all false ads requesting donations for Ukraine from its platform.

Donate through gift cards or Bitcoin

People asking you to donate through gift cards or Crypto are mostly scammers. Asking donors to send their donations using these means is frequent, as they know they cannot be tracked.

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Scammer asks for donation through crypto wallet

It is therefore advisable to be careful when making a donation. To avoid scams, choose recognized sites (Leetchi, Paypal, Helloasso, Gofundme...) that have anti-fraud teams.

Before donating, check if the beneficiary and the funding pot initiator are well identified, and if the description of the fund inspires confidence. Some sites certify the kitty: you can then donate without risk. For those that are not, some safety rules are necessary. As is the case with spam, messages full of spelling or syntax errors should alert you. Check during the payment that the transaction is secure: the address of the site, at the time of the transaction, must begin with " https ". A padlock will be displayed in front of the address. Finally, check the fees charged by the donation platforms.

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