Charity Scams on the Rise in Australia
24 October 2018 at 5:39 pm
Australians have lost more than $320,000 to charity fraud this year as scammers increasingly turn to creating fake charities or impersonating real ones.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has received 689 reports of fake charity scams in 2018, and reported losses have increased steadily over the past four years.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said scammers were using people’s generosity against them.
“This is a particularly appalling scam as beyond just stealing money from unsuspecting victims, the scammers also take money meant for legitimate charities,” Rickard said.
“Donations are the lifeblood that supports charities and their ability to help people in need.”
The ACCC reported scammers have been approaching people on the street or at their front door posing as a fake charity collector.
Scammers have also set up fake websites which look similar to real charity websites and called or emailed people requesting donations.
Rickard said fake charity approaches occurred all year round and often were made in response to real disasters such as floods, cyclones, or bushfires.
“The ACCC has seen horrific examples of charity scammers taking advantage of high profile tragedies like the Black Saturday bushfires and following last year’s Bourke Street tragedy,” she said.
“We’ve also seen some recent examples of charity scammers using the current drought to rip off people.
“The scammers have no shame. If they’re not creating fake charities, they will impersonate real ones like the Red Cross, RSPCA, or Rural Fire Service.”
A spokesperson for the RSPCA told Pro Bono News that to avoid succumbing to bogus callers, Australians should always ask for the caller’s name, reference number and call back details.
“If they are hesitant to provide details, don’t donate,” the spokesperson said.
Rickard’s warning comes during Charity Fraud Awareness Week (22 October to 26 October), and the ACCC has encouraged donors look up charities on the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission’s charity register before donating.
Charity scams can be reported online here.