How to avoid scams in Ukraine | Family finances

If you want to help those suffering from the war in Ukraine, there are many causes and charities that accept donations. But experts warn that there are also numerous Ukraine-related scams targeting consumers that span fundraising, social media, cryptocurrency and even dating.

Here is an overview of several types of scams aimed at profiting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Fundraising Scams

The fundraising field is a popular area for scammers looking to profit from the Ukraine crisis. “As we’ve seen all too well during the coronavirus pandemic, scammers are quite capable of taking anything that’s happening in society and turning it into an opportunity to rip people off,” says Steve Weisman, lecturer in law, taxation and financial planning at Bentley University who manages the website.

Weisman says that even if you signed up for the federal do not call list, legitimate charities can still call you. “The problem is that every time you receive a phone call, you can never be sure who is really calling you – so you may be contacted by either a fake charity or a scammer pretending to be a charity. legitimate charity,” says Weisman.

The best way to avoid being scammed by a fake charity is to refuse to donate money during a phone solicitation, Weisman says. That’s not to say a legitimate charity is out of luck. If you like the sound of the charity, hang up and initiate the payment yourself through the charity’s website after searching for it.

Of course, fake fundraisers don’t just target people by phone, email, or text. They have also created fake charity websites.

Brad Hong, virtual director of information security at cybersecurity startup Horizon3, says reports have shown there are thousands of Ukraine-related domains that were registered shortly after the start. of the war. Some of them may be genuine fundraising attempts. Many are surely not.

“The best way to avoid scams is to donate to reputable charities rather than self-proclaimed donation websites,” Hong says.

Hong cites a few causes people might consider donating to:


Weisman says romance scams, which have always been a problem, have increased dramatically during the pandemic.

“Now we can expect scammers to be on dating sites and social media, using a knowledge of psychology that (Sigmund) Freud would have envied, to trick unsuspecting people into believing they have found true love with a Ukrainian man who, soon after the relationship deepened, urgently needed funds to send to him, ”says Weisman.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t chat with someone from Ukraine on a dating site. It could well be a real person trying to make a connection. But as a guide, don’t send money to a stranger, even if you think you know them online.


Cryptocurrency scams have been on the rise for years, so it’s no surprise that reports of cryptocurrency scams in Ukraine are circulating. The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker 2021 Risk Report found that cryptocurrency scams rose from the seventh riskiest type of scam in 2020 to the second riskiest in 2021.

Brittany Allen, trust and safety architect at fraud prevention firm Sift, says she and her colleagues have seen scammers posing as Ukrainians in need of donations, demanding payment in cryptocurrency. and pocket the payment.

“Another type of scam we see is fraudsters posing as crypto exchanges themselves, claiming that they are collecting donations in the form of cryptocurrency for the people of Ukraine,” Allen says.

But you don’t have to rule out giving to charity with cryptocurrency, Weisman says. “A number of legitimate charities have solicited cryptocurrency donations to help the people of Ukraine devastated by the Russian invasion,” he says. “Even the Ukrainian government itself has sought donations of cryptocurrencies to help purchase military equipment, medical supplies and other necessary items.”

Ukraine’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Kuna, accepts donations of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and many other cryptocurrencies. To date, millions of dollars in cryptocurrency donations have been collected by the Ukrainian government, Weisman said.

But the scammers are definitely hiding. Early in the war, Weisman says scammers posing as Ukrainian officials created a fake cryptocurrency called Peaceful World, which they sold on the Uniswap platform. People donated over $50 million before the fake cryptocurrency was exposed as a scam.

“A big red flag for consumers as they assess the legitimacy of a Ukrainian relief effort is the requirement to submit your donation in cryptocurrency only,” Allen says. “Legit donation sites will also offer the ability to pay in more universally accepted currencies and methods like credit cards. Importantly, once a transaction is made in crypto, the sender has little recourse to receive a refund – these transactions are irreversible – so make sure that if you are donating in crypto, you have done your research to validate the recipient.

Social networks

Using the invasion of Ukraine as a pretext, scammers can find you through social networks. It’s probably no surprise. But they can deceive you in surprising ways.

You know to be wary of a strange and unfamiliar email or text message, especially if it asks you to click on a link, but it can be trickier when you’re on social media.

“Never click on links from sources whose legitimacy you have not verified. TikTok in particular was widely used during the war,” says Weisman. “While many posts are legitimate, many others are not. are not, including one that showed a street lined with cars as screams and gunfire filled the air. The video claimed to be from Ukraine and asked for donations. However, if you watched the video carefully, you would notice that the license plates of the cars were from the UK.

Weisman adds that if you want news and information about the war in Ukraine, “the best thing to do is to limit your sources to respected and legitimate sources of information that you are familiar with rather than relying on media outlets. social media which may be unreliable and may simply be an attempt to trick you into clicking on infected links.

Also watch out for links and QR codes to the personal Venmo accounts of Ukrainians in need, says T. Frank Downs, senior director of proactive services at BlueVoyant, a cybersecurity services company.

Some real-life Ukrainians may be doing it, but Downs says, “One of the biggest scams to emerge as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is stealing Venmo.

So before you send someone money through Venmo, check the person out carefully first, and even then, it’s probably best not to send money.

“The best way for individuals to avoid being scammed is not to donate to an organization or individual through third-party payment apps, such as Venmo, unless they know specifically individuals or organizations in a way distinct from online calls for help,” says Downs.

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