Thursday, March 29, 2012

Money is Lost and Reputations Are Harmed by Charity Fraud

Donors and Charities Can Protect One Another

ORILLIA, Ontario, March 29, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Opening your heart and your wallet to someone representing an unfamiliar charity or special interest can be hazardous to your wealth, according to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

As Fraud Prevention Month nears an end, some charitable fund-raising campaigns are getting into high gear. Warning signs of charity fraud include: high pressure or threatening telemarketers who want you to contribute immediately; a caller thanks you for a pledge you don't remember making; or, the charities have 'copycat names' which are designed to mislead or deceive their targets.

"By nature, Canadians are very generous. However, criminals will ruthlessly use whatever means necessary to prey upon your good intentions for their own selfish purposes." - Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, OPP Investigations/Organized Crime Command.

In 2011, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 418 Canadian complaints of charity fraud. Of those, 48 people were victimized to the tune of more than $88-thousand. Police believe only five (5) per cent of victims actually report the crime.

Members of the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch suggest would-be donors consider the following tips on a year-round basis:

...Never give out your personal or financial information over the phone, or at the door. You may wish to make out a cheque payable to the charity. You can mail the cheque later.

...Call the charity. Find out if they know about the appeal and if it is authorized, and what percentage of your donation they will receive. You should never feel pressured into making a donation.

...If you receive a telephone call, ask for the information to be sent to you in writing. Ask how much of your gift will be used directly for the charity. Ask how much will go toward administrative costs. Legitimate charities will have no problem giving you this information.

...Ask if the charity is registered. Contact Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the charitable tax number of the charity. Question any discrepancies.

...At the beginning of each year, decide which charities to support - send your cheques directly to their head office, and feel good about giving. If approached more directly, you can then say that you have already given, and perhaps you will consider their appeal next year when you decide on the charities to support.

"Committing your hard-earned money to charity should be as safe and secure as you intend it to be. Your best defence against charity scams is knowing as much about the charitable organization as possible before you decide to donate." - Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch.

Responsible charities can do their part to ensure their representatives carry appropriate identification and have information would-be donors may need for each aspect of their operation, such as about how donations are used.

If you suspect you or someone you know have been approached by a fraudulent representative of a charity, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.


OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month

Glossary of Pitch Types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Charity/Donation: Any false, deceptive or misleading solicitation for a donation to a charity, association, federation, or religious cause.

Extortion: Any person who unlawfully obtains money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.

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