Warning of scammers exploiting tragedy of Ukraine conflict

A charity has warned of potential scams relating to the humanitarian crisis in Europe.

Warning of scammers exploiting tragedy of Ukraine conflict to steal cash from Scots Getty Images

Scots are being warned to be wary of scammers attempting to exploit the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the country’s national consumer advice service, said they have highlighted a range of ways fraudsters may attempt to target those trying to offer support.

Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for the charity, said: “Scammers often use political and world events to take advantage of people and their good nature, and the current tragedy in Ukraine will be no different.

“This may include unsolicited contact requesting monetary donations, and/or personal and banking information, which seeks to play on the emotions of people that want to help.

“We would advise people who want to help to consider donating to organisations that are already providing support in Ukraine, such as the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) appeal, the British Red Cross or another registered charity.

“It is important to remain vigilant and report scams and suspicious activity to the correct authorities.”

The charity is urging Scots to be cautious if they receive a request from someone claiming to be stuck in Ukraine or who says they need help with repatriation or travel costs.

It also highlighted that scammers may set up spoof websites that look like those of official registered charities and fundraising sites like GoFundMe.

Financial and banking scams could also see people being asked to assist in “moving money out of” Ukraine – but could result in them being charged or even becoming implicated in money-laundering activities.

The charity encouraged people to fact-check for false information. Their advice is to avoid clicking on links in emails or text messages and not to transfer money to people they do not know.

If you or someone you know has been scammed out of a large sum of money, you can contact Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101 or dial 999 if you feel threatened or at immediate risk.

Advice Direct Scotland’s list of “tell-tale signs” of a scam includes:

  • Long, convoluted web or email addresses with characters that look out of place
  • Unsecure websites that throw up security warnings by your browser or anti-virus software
  • Spelling errors that genuine organisations and businesses are unlikely to have on their websites or marketing materials
  • Blurry images, logos and branding can be a sign that materials have been copied
  • For door-to-door charity collectors or those operating in public places, always request identification that shows they work for the charity
  • Check charity registration numbers with the relevant charity regulators, such as The Scottish Charity Regulator, the Charity Commission Service in England, and The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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