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A recent attempted fraud against charities in Ireland is a “stark reminder” of the vigilance and due diligence needed to avoid falling victim.
This is according to Charities Institute Ireland, which says that a member had reported receiving a phishing email claiming to offer a “significant” legacy donation.
The email claimed to be from the nephew of a recently-deceased individual in the United States, who had remembered the charity in the will. It said that the family was “disappointed” not to have received an acknowledgment of that gift, and expressed concern that the (fictional) funds might not have been transferred.
It also provided contact details for a US law firm. On inspection, the charity realised that while the law firm did indeed exist, the contact details did not match those found on its website.
The charity contacted the law firm using its real contact details, and it was confirmed that the email was not legitimate. In addition, the law firm told this charity that it had been contacted by other nonprofits who had received the same email.
Following this, the charity blocked the sender of the suspicious email and took further measures to ensure it was protected from fraud.
Charities Institute Ireland says in a statement on its website:
“It is crucial to independently verify the authenticity of such communications. Charities should cross-check contact details provided in suspicious emails and, if necessary, directly reach out to the alleged parties using verified and publicly available information. By staying vigilant and adopting stringent verification measures, charities can safeguard themselves against potential scams and fraudulent activities, ultimately preserving the trust and integrity of the charitable sector.”
‘Protecting your charity from cybercrime’, a guide published by Ireland’s Charities Regulator in 2020, says:
“Remember the basic principle that if you are contacted with an offer which sounds too good to be true, unfortunately there’s a strong chance that it is, so take your time and do your research before you commit.”
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