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Crowdfunding Scams Growing at a Fast Pace in the Philippines

Crowdfunding Scams Growing at a Fast Pace in the Philippines

Crowdfunded donations have become a key source of disaster assistance and charities all around the world. It is no surprise that people are very open to giving and helping, especially when encouraged by celebrities and influencers who are the first to announce that they are engaging in some kind of crowdfunding campaign. What is not to like about this new way to raise funds for a good cause is its potential for scams.

There has been fraud for as long as there has been charitable giving. Criminals prey on kindhearted donors during times of stress and intense emotion, especially after catastrophes and tragedies. However, any good cause is a perfect excuse for a crowdfunding scammer: a very ill hard-working mom, children with serious ailments, personal hardships, homeless veterans, wildlife rescues, support for refugees, etc. Anything in the spotlight is worthy material for a scammer, regardless of where it happens or who it happens to.

Private investigators in Manila say that the location of the tragedy is irrelevant, at least for the crowdfunding scammers in the Philippines. If a devastating tornado strikes six states in the U.S., anyone in the world can easily create a crowdfunding profile to raise money directly from the public, and for users, it’s almost impossible to determine how the money will be spent once the goal amount is raised. Millions of dollars have been raised to assist hurricane victims in the U.S., to help recover from the Australian wildfires, and even to support causes like opposing Covid-19 measures. The question is what part of the money raised was really to help the cause, and what was only a scam perpetrated by online criminals.

For Philippines scammers, crowdfunding fraud has become a very profitable business in recent years. Disasters are happening more frequently and are also being more disseminated by the news, which helps criminals reach more people, more often.

While some crowdfunding sites offer tips on how to prevent being ripped off by a donation scammer, they don’t conduct background checks to verify if people are dealing with a Philippines scammer or if the person or organization promoting the crowdfunding campaign is legitimate.  In these cases, the best is to properly investigate the validity of a charity and make sure the crowdfunding profile is safe.

When donating, it is also important to search online for the official websites and contact information of reputable organizations and confirm by these means that they are promoting a fundraising campaign and how to donate. There are many impersonators out there, so this will help ensure that the money is being sent to the right people.

When possible, use a credit card, which offers extra layers of protection. Online criminals frequently request crypto transfers, as cryptocurrency is a popular means for fraud in the Philippines. Using cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or a wire transfer to donate may be a mistake of epic proportions. Scammers prefer these types of payments because it is nearly impossible to recover funds once they have been collected.

When donating, keep in mind that verifying the organization is a must.

C. Wright

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