While the conflict between Ukraine and Russia only started in late February, enterprising scammers have already jumped at the opportunity to profit from others’ suffering. Cybersecurity experts warn users online to avoid a slew of new scams targeting generous people who want to help Ukraine amid the conflict.
Read on for more information regarding these insidious new scams and how you can avoid them.
Scammers love to use phishing sites to defraud people. These are fake web pages that look like an existing organization’s landing page. In times of geopolitical strife, some scammers will roll out fake versions of the Red Cross site, for instance, and accept “donations” through the genuine-looking payment portal.
Make sure you check the URL on any site you plan to donate through. If you follow a link through an email, you could land on a convincing-looking fake web page. The URL will tell you everything you need to know–if it doesn’t match the site you think you’re on, it’s time to back out of the page.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the online scam playbook. A thief will contact you and say they’re a Ukrainian citizen who is fleeing the violence in their home country and says they can’t access their money as banks are all closed. They’ll ask you to send them enough money to get out of the country so they can visit a bank branch in a neighboring country.
When they get there, they tell you, they can pay you back double what you sent them. Ignore these requests, as they’re just scammers trying to trick you into sending them money. You’ll never get the cash back if you send it to these criminals.
Thousands of people are stuck in cities across Ukraine, eager to flee to other European countries to escape the violence. Many of them have turned to online platforms like GoFundMe to request financial assistance from generous people all over the world. Scammers eager to make a quick buck have also turned to this method, posing as refugees and peddling for money from users on social media.
This is insidious because it makes people hesitant to give money to those in need. What if the person you’re thinking of donating to is actually a scammer? The best way to avoid this is to donate to official charitable organizations or reputable relief funds. These organizations can offer assistance to refugees, and you can rest assured that no thieves will access the funds instead of people who need them.