Better Business Bureau warns of swindles that target the kind-hearted: Beware of fraudulent church or faith-based solicitations requesting donations by e-mail or phone.
In an e-mail recently reported to BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, the subject line states, "REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE!!" The sender claims to be a prophet in Nigeria at "The Synagogue Church Of All Nation." The message requests donations to help build a new worship facility, orphanage, and rehabilitate family members of the victims killed in the 2010 Jos Riots.
However, the request appears to be part of a widespread Nigerian e-mail scam. The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a real organization, has posted an alert on themaninthesynagogue.org to distance themselves from these fake e-mails.
Charitable solicitations: In the wake of tragedies, don't assume legitimacy.
- Use BBB's Charity Review Program as a resource: www.bbb.org/charity.
- Make sure charities are registered with the Oregon Department of Justice.
- If you receive a call from an unknown party or an e-mail from a sender claiming affiliation with a church, synagogue or place of worship, contact that establishment directly to authenticate the relationship.
- Use a search engine or directory to get information on the organization. Don't immediately trust information provided by an unfamiliar solicitor.
- Avoid providing personal or payment details to unsolicited requests. Never wire donation funds.
Suspicious e-mails: Beware of unknown senders, aggressive pleas and poor grammar.
- Do not click on links, open attachments or reply to the message. If it comes from a trusted source, call them to ensure that their account wasn't hacked.
- Cautiously inspect links to avoid imitation websites. Some e-mails contain fake URLs that are off by one letter or include a different domain name—such as ".com" or ".net" when it should be “.org.”
- If an e-mail or website appears fraudulent, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov and e-mail the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org. Delete it from your inbox and run a computer virus scan.
Contact your BBB for more tips to avoid scams or visit www.bbb.org.