Scots have been urged to be aware of six potential scams that are anticipated to hit unsuspecting victims amid the war in Ukraine.
A number of people in Scotland have pledged their support to Ukrainians that have been impacted by the conflict.
This support ranges from financial to offering their homes to those that are fleeing Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion.
But Advice Direct Scotland has listed the types of scams expected to hit kindhearted people as fraudsters seek to take advantage of the situation.
This could include unsolicited contact, requesting monetary donation, and person or banking information from consumers.
“With the situation escalating further in Ukraine, and increased news reporting on evacuation and other humanitarian efforts, it is highly likely that scammers will take advantage of the situation”, experts at Advice Direct Scotland have said.
The organisation have also put together their predictions of scams that Scots may find themselves targeted with in the coming weeks and months in relation to the conflict.
It is important to remain vigilant when faced with GoFundMe or other donation pages. Whilst many fundraising activities may be legitimate, it is important to ensure we are not lured in by scammers with fake elaborate stories, attempting to appeal to our better nature.
Additionally, scammers may use this opportunity to set up ‘spoof’ websites that emulate the official efforts of registered charities. This involves the creation of websites that may look like the real charity site but are not.
These requests for donations may be for several reasons including, but not limited to –
- Requests for financial assistance for the burial of a loved one/ family member
- Requests of support from people claiming to be defending freedom
- Requests for support from someone claiming to be stuck in Ukraine
- Requests for donations for repatriation or support with travel costs
If at all unsure of a fundraising page, or the charitable efforts of an individual, it is sometimes better to donate to charities already registered and providing support to the cause.
GoFundMe Platform Monitoring
GoFundMe has a team of Trust and Safety experts responsible for monitoring the platform around the clock. The team interacts with campaign organisers directly, vetting and verifying the intended use of funds.
Their Trust & Safety team reviews each fundraiser to ensure they are compliant with international laws before a fundraiser can start collecting donations.
This is underpinned by the GoFundMe guarantee. In the rare case that misuse occurs on the platform, anyone who has donated is protected, and can be fully refunded, with the GoFundMe Guarantee.
For more information on the work GoFundMe are doing to ensure that people can donate to fundraisers to support Ukraine safely, please see their blog.
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Deepfake Technology scams
If you come across any videos appearing on social media, or through websites like YouTube, it is important to check to ensure they are legitimate.
Technological advances have allowed us to do an array of wonderful things, including editing videos easily and quickly, but on the flip side, this can be used by scammers to assist in the spread of false information, with videos manipulated to seem like the message is coming from an official source.
‘Deepfake’ technology allows video footage to be edited, allowing the appearance of politicians and celebrities to look like they are delivering a specific message, or endorsing certain charitable efforts or causes, when in fact the video images have been manipulated to seem this way.
It is important that we fact-check for false information, and don’t take videos and social media posts at face value.
It is anticipated that the adaptation of familiar scam methods, such as banking scams may be perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals, in the form of requests for transferred sums, or assistance in ‘moving money out of the country’ (Ukraine).
This type of scam requests your assistance in moving funds, but you will usually be charged fees for transferring the amounts, or worse – become implicated in money-laundering activities.
Investment Scams are also a potential risk, and scammers may claim to offer investment opportunities that have only become available due to the current situation. It is important not to be taken in by scammers offering unrealistic opportunities and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Energy Scams / Price Increases
Don’t be caught out by scammers claiming to offer reduced energy prices, or short-term special offers to enter fixed-rate tariffs because of the current situation. Remember to check with official sources (e.g., energy supplier websites) if an offer for a fixed-rate tariff is made to you. Avoid supplying personal or financial information in these situations, and report suspected scams.
Romance and companionship scams work off the emotional connection that scammers build with their targets. With the situation in Ukraine, scammers may use this as a way of building rapport with contacts they make, falsely saying they need to leave Russia or Ukraine because of the war.
This may include the sharing of messages with photos and / or videos, saying they need money for essentials, or to secure their exit from the country. If someone you have recently started messaging or communicating with asks you for money, this could be a sign that you are being scammed.
It is important to check in on relatives and friends if they have become withdrawn or secretive, particularly about financial matters, and specifically if they have advised of recent romantic involvement.