The Phone Fraud Scam: Scammers Are Busy!

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on December 22, 2015

be charity fraud awareCareful who you give your money to!

Scammers are busy this time of year. What makes a phone fraud scam detestable is the seemingly premeditated effort to prey on people at this time of year when everybody’s willingness to donate is heightened.

Throw in the impersonation of an organization that involves people risking their lives to save others is appalling. And this time of year when every city is witness to a family or families who lose everything due to tragedy makes you wonder what’s wrong with people!

Just this week, Vancouver’s fire and rescue issued a warning about a phone scam. Fraudsters have been calling people asking for donations on behalf of “Vancouver Fire Fighters” but in reality, neither Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services nor the Vancouver Fire Fighter’s Charitable Society ever solicit donations by phone. Probably a safe bet that any organization like this across North America also does not solicit donations by phone.

Yet it’s still being done, and people are still falling for it.

Every day, police and firefighters risk their lives to make communities safer, and to show support, many people consider making a donation when a fundraiser calls from a fire or police service organization. But stop a moment – simply having the words “police” or “firefighter” in an organization’s name doesn’t mean police or firefighters are members of the group collecting money for a ‘charitable’ organization.

If you have never heard of the organization before, have had no previous affiliation with the organization, or it sounds sort of (but not quite like) a well known charity, it may or may not be a registered charity. The person making this unsolicited call may be a third party and may be taking up to 95% (or all) of the funds by way of commission or criminal activity.

In Ontario recently scammers are impersonating police officers in another phone scam hitting that area. In the middle of December there were two complaints from residents reporting a suspected telephone scam. Both reported receiving a voicemail message on their home phone from a man with an accent identifying himself as a police officer and demanding the homeowner or their lawyer call back.

The scammer provided a phone number to call back and said the matter was time sensitive – an effort to get the victim to call back.

Communities rely on the hard work produced by charities and not-for-profit organizations. Unfortunately, these entities are susceptible to, and easily harmed by fraud. Fake charities often use names that very closely resemble legitimate and respected charities. And now that the end of the year is almost upon us, it’s peak season for charities to solicit for donations… and cue the scammers looking to defraud the public.

The best way to avoid charity scams is to think about what charities are most important to you, make a list of those charities, do some research and then donate directly to those charities. This is the safest and most efficient way to donate to a charity. Do not wait for some person to call you or knock on your door from some charity you have never heard of.

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