FBI warning: Don’t fall for charity scams about war in Israel

The FBI said charity scams are getting trickier to spot.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 11:53 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KWQC) - The FBI said charity scams are getting trickier to spot.

People wanting to donate to victims of the Israel-HAMAS conflict are a target — usually by a social media post, an email, a cold call, or a crowdfunding website request.

Special agent-in-charge of the Springfield Field Office David Nanz said the FBI has received complaints of legitimate email addresses of Israel-based individuals being hacked or possibly spoofed to solicit donations.

The FBI said charity scams are especially prevalent during conflicts or wars, natural disasters, or epidemics. Fraudsters might claim to be associated with established charities or creators of new charities.

Foreign terrorist organizations often establish fake charities using social media to fund their operations.

Common red flag: Asking you to pay with cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency — which makes it difficult or impossible to track or seek reimbursement.

To avoid charity frauds:

• Don’t click on a link in an email. If looking to fund a charity, visit the website directly.

• Research new charities online and verify phone numbers or email addresses before donating.

• Make sure that you are using the correct website. Criminals have been known to engage in “domain spoofing” or “URL hijacking” to create look-alike websites with URLs similar in appearance to those of known organizations.

• Use the IRS’s website to see if the charity you are using is registered.

“Charity scams can prey on both local communities and vulnerable populations devastated by life-altering catastrophes,” said Nanz. “If you think you have been targeted by a charity scam, report the incident. The FBI is committed to preventing scams and protecting the public from their devastating impact.”

Report charity scams via the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov,) 1-800-CALL-FBI, or FBI Springfield at 217-522-9675