FBI Warning Charity Scams May Exploit Public Generosity During Israel- HAMAS Conflict
SACRAMENTO—The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Sacramento Field Office is warning the public that criminals are soliciting donations during the Israel-HAMAS conflict. These charity scams victimize both well-meaning, local communities, and the vulnerable populations impacted by life-changing catastrophes.
Scams are especially prevalent during times of increased conflict such as war, natural disasters, or epidemics. Criminals often use these crises as opportunities to exploit individuals seeking to support humanitarian efforts. Perpetrators claim to be associated with established charities or creators of new charities associated with emergent conflicts.
Local communities may be targeted by individuals claiming to collect funds for victimized families while using the donations for their own personal gain or in support of domestic or international criminal enterprises.
Foreign terrorist organizations often establish fake charities using social media platforms to misdirect unwitting donors to subsidize their operations. Solicitations are then coordinated via social media posts, e-mail, cold calls, or crowdfunding website requests.
To avoid becoming a victim:
- Approach all unsolicited communication including direct messages, calls, and e-mails with suspicion.
- Visit the official website of a charitable entity directly to obtain contact information rather than clicking on links in e-mails or assuming the unsolicited call is from an official source.
- Thoroughly research new charities online and verify phone numbers or e-mail addresses before donating. Be sure the named charity is not associated with scams and uses funds as they claim.
- Ensure that you are using the official website of a well-known charity. Criminals may create look-alike, “spoofed” websites with URLs similar in appearance to those of known organizations.
- Visit the California Attorney General’s Charitable Registry Search tool to ensure a charity is registered in the State of California.
- Visit the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if a charity donation to the organization is tax deductible.
- Never pay by cash, gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency. Each of these forms of payment are difficult or impossible to track and reverse.
The FBI urges the public to report these fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov. The public may also call their local FBI field office or resident agency.
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center Public Service Announcements
- Scammers Solicit Fake Humanitarian Donations https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2023/PSA231024
- The FBI Warns of Scammers Soliciting Donations Related to the Crisis in Ukraine https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2022/PSA220531
- Spoofed FBI Internet Domains Pose Cyber and Disinformation Risks https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2020/PSA201123
- FBI Guidance for Cryptocurrency Scam Victims https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2023/PSA230824
- Federal Trade Commission: Safely Donating in Response to the Israel-Gaza Crisis https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2023/10/safely-donating-response-israel-gaza-crisis
- Internal Revenue Service Tax Exempt Organization Search https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search
- California Department of Justice Charitable Registry Search Tool https://rct.doj.ca.gov/Verification/Web/Search.aspx?facility=Y