Are charity scams on the rise?
It’s a sad fact that we live in a world where charity scams seem to be on the increase.
Just last week, Tina Michele Sammons, a healthy 37-year-old woman from Victoria, was brought up on fraud charges after she allegedly told everyone she could find that she had severe brain cancer and needed money to fight it.
How much did she snag from well-meaning donors? About $300,000, at last count.
Despite the fact that most charities are on the up and up, there are several types of scams kicking around just now.
The first is the obvious one, the bogus charity. It’s not that difficult to create a name, print a letterhead and invent a pseudo charity number. And it’s not that difficult to write a nice, gently pleading letter to shake loose a few dollars.
Secondly, direct marketing is a good source for scammers, whether they elicit money through softly spoken people working the phones, or send dubious emails.
Thirdly, particularly at this time of year, is the street scam, with collectors calling on people in their homes, or standing on street corners, giving out envelopes, or rattling tins.
If you’re in any doubt, ask to see I.D, note the name and number of the charity and ask them a few questions. If you’re still not convinced, then say you’d prefer to donate at the source, at a later date. And never allow any front-step caller into your home.
Bogus charities are actually easier to cope with than solicitors pretending to be from a recognized charity. They can be checked out quite readily since all Canadian charities have to be registered with the CRA. Or try the Canadian Book of Charities.
If you’re looking for a more thorough background check though, try out Charity Intelligence. The service, designed primarily for foundations and larger donors, regularly scopes out charities, posting "buy signals" on its website so the public can take advantage of its research into where the money goes and how effectively it's spent.
Have you been stung by a bogus charity or someone simply misrepresenting themselves? What was the aftermath? Did this taint your view of charitable giving in general?
By Gordon Powers
Posted by: China Mike | Mar 17, 2022 2:43:38 PM
I know from personal experience that Internet charity scams abound, especially in Asia. And ironically, many other types of scams such as the “Nigerian Letter Scam” actually have roots in Japan itself.
Blindly donating to an unknown or obscure charity via the Internet to help the Japanese people is just the latest and newest opportunity scammers have been waiting for. Pulling at the heart strings of unsuspecting honest people and goading them to help the less fortunate is just what scammers do best. High profile charity causes are the easiest way scammers are able to bilk the unsuspecting public of their money. And it is tax free and virtually risk free with little chance of ever being caught or criminally prosecuted with any crime.
Resist the temptation to donate especially if you personally know nothing about a charity [no matter how good their television ads or website sounds] and keep your money in your pocket.
If you truly want to help the Japanese people and you have the time and the necessary special skills, then stop surfing the Net about this latest disaster and instead, go and volunteer your time & energy and help with the relief effort. If you don’t have the time or skills needed, then stay home and keep your money in your pocket and out of the pockets of scammers. Many rescue teams are already returning to their own countries as they lack the necessary skills to help with this latest nuclear crisis. The Japanese are a proud and determine people and live in one of the world’s richest countries. They will do just fine helping themselves.
Regardless of claims of being “non-profit”, the large front line charities are just like any other “for profit” big business; out to make a buck on the backs of the less fortunate. Any Charity, big or small, also has it’s “expenses” and “overheads” and pays certain taxes just like any other business and this need to be paid for out of the donations they receive. The question to ask yourself is how “Just how much of my money will actually get to the people who need it the most?”
A previous reader and contributor to this thread said it best. Just give a donation [big or small] to the Canadian Red Cross and allow them to best allocate your contribution. Let the Red Cross give your condolences and accept your donation on behalf of the Japanese people. This is the most reliable and recognizable charity in the Western world and they have an affiliate in Japan.
When charities like the "March of Dimes" are allowed to spend 100's of millions of dollars building new head offices and pay their CEO salaries of several million dollars, one wonders if any of the money they collect ever makes it to the people it was intended. In the case of "The March of Dimes", some estimates [I have read] say it could actually be as little as 10% to a maximum of 30%. If this is the case, then perhaps “The March of Dimes” is aptly named. For every dollar they collect, only a dime is put in the hands of the despondent people large charities claim to help.
As for the proponents on this thread who are telling everyone to not think and just “open their wallets”…..??? I can’t help wondering if these people are actually internet scammers just out spreading the gospel of charity in hopes of protecting this latest golden “cash cow” opportunity.
I am not advocating ignoring the crisis in Japan; I am just telling people to think with their brains and not with their hearts when opening their wallets whenever considering making a charitable donation.