HEARTLESS scammers are exploiting the war in Ukraine to con people out of money.
Kind donors have been warned to be extra careful who they give money to, following a surge in the number of websites related to the conflict.
While many genuine sites have popped up since Russia invaded Ukraine, “deplorable” fraudsters have also seen it as a good opportunity.
Their merciless actions deprive Ukrainians of urgent aid.
Like many scams, they can vary from dodgy websites and fake social media accounts, to dubious text messages and calls.
The Sun has received reports of automated calls disguised as bank security checks, claiming a person’s credit card was used to donate hundreds of pounds to a charity helping the relief effort.
But actually it’s a scammer trying to scare victims into giving out their bank details.
Perpetrators love imitating real charitable organisations too, with ever-more convincing rip-off sites.
The Ukrainian Red Cross has already identified several fake pages on Instagram.
“Trust only the official channels,” the charity said.
Fake crisis stories
Scam protection expert Charlie Shakeshaft told The Sun that fraudsters are also masquerading as individuals in the crisis looking for help with a fake heart-wrenching story.
“The story is completely made up and the scammer is looking to dupe a victim with an emotional con,” he said.
“This is particularly sinister as many people are actually living this horrific reality and to use their nightmare in an attempt to exploit goodhearted victims is just evil.”
Twist on the ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam
Another ruse cyber criminals are trying is the classic ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam.
In this case, they pretend to be an Ukrainian businessman looking to keep their money safe from the crisis by transferring it out of the country.
The businessman needs someone to transfer the money to until they can get out of Ukraine, where they will reclaim it with a tip for whoever offers to assist.
“Clearly, once bank details have been exchanged, the scammer will steal the victims money and the victim wont see it again,” Shakeshaft said.
“A twist on the Nigerian Prince scam we have become familiar with.”
“Be especially vigilant”
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned donors to be vigilant.
“The NCSC is aware of scams that use the situation in Ukraine as a lure to defraud British people who want to help,” a spokesperson said.
“This is wholly deplorable, and sadly typical of fraudsters who exploit current affairs to try to trick people.
“People should be especially vigilant for any suspicious emails or texts that use topical events and report them to the NCSC.”
Any suspicious emails can be forwarded to email@example.com, while texts can be sent onto 7726 and dodgy web addresses can be reported on the NCSC website.
Anyone wanting to donate should check that it is backed by a registered charity or reputable organisation, such as The Sun’s Ukraine Fund.
Help those fleeing conflict with The Sun’s Ukraine Fund
PICTURES of women and children fleeing the horror of Ukraine’s devastated towns and cities have moved Sun readers to tears.
Many of you want to help the five million caught in the chaos — and now you can, by donating to The Sun’s Ukraine Fund.
Give as little as £3 or as much as you can afford and every penny will be donated to the Red Cross on the ground helping women, children, the old, the infirm and the wounded.
Donate here to help The Sun’s fund
Or text to 70141 from UK mobiles
£3 — text SUN£3
£5 — text SUN£5
£10 — text SUN£10
Texts cost your chosen donation amount (e.g. £5) +1 standard message (we receive 100%). For full T&Cs visit redcross.org.uk/mobile
The Ukraine Crisis Appeal will support people in areas currently affected and those potentially affected in the future by the crisis.
In the unlikely event that the British Red Cross raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help them prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters anywhere in the world.
For more information visit https://donate.redcross.org.uk/appeal/disaster-fund
In other news, the new Harry Potter video game Hogwarts Legacy will feature some familiar faces despite being set hundreds of years before the majority of characters were even born.
A major Mars mission to find out whether life ever existed on the planet could be delayed by up to six years at best, as Europe scrambles to replace Russian parts.
Internet users have been urged not to use a popular piece of anti-virus software over fears it could be exploited by the Kremlin to spy or launch cyberattacks.
And Instagram could be planning to bring back a way to see what your friends like on the platform.
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org