FBI Jacksonville warns of charity fraud amid conflicts

Criminals will use any opportunity to exploit unsuspecting victims, including the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

FBI Jacksonville warned that the FBI has received multiple complaints, including legitimate email addresses of Israel-based individuals being hacked or spoofed to solicit donations. The FBI also previously warned of fundraising scams related to the crisis in Ukraine.

Charity scams are prevalent during the holiday giving season, as well as in times of increased conflict such as war, natural disasters or epidemics, the FBI warned. Criminals identify populations in need, some devastated by catastrophes, and use these events to exploit members of the public who support humanitarian efforts. Perpetrators may claim to represent established charities or new charities developed to support emergent conflicts.

Common red flags include:

Unsolicited emails or calls seeking donations.Requests for payment via cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency which are often used by criminals because they are difficult to track.

To avoid charity fraud:

Research charities online and verify their contact information before donating.Confirm the charity is registered with the Internal Revenue Service: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-searchLook up the organization’s website rather than clicking on links. If giving to a well-known established charity, ensure that you are using the correct website. Criminals may engage in “domain spoofing” or “URL hijacking” to create URLs and sites that are similar in appearance to those of known organizations.

FBI Jacksonville reminds the public that charity fraud scams are serious crimes with very real consequences. Report violations to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) or dial 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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