David Nanz, special agent-in-charge of the Springfield Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warns the public that criminals are soliciting fake humanitarian donations during the Israel-HAMAS conflict, a news release says.

The FBI has received complaints of legitimate email addresses of Israel-based individuals being hacked or possibly spoofed to solicit donations.

Charity scams are especially prevalent during times of increased conflict such as war, natural disasters, or epidemics. Criminals use these tragedies to exploit members of the public looking to support humanitarian efforts. This fraud, also known as “disaster fraud,” comes in many forms. Perpetrators may claim to be associated with established charities or creators of new charities associated with emergent conflicts.

Some perpetrators may prey on their own local communities by claiming to collect funds for victimized families abroad while actually using collected funds for their own personal expenses or in support of criminal enterprises domestically or internationally. Foreign terrorist organizations often establish fake charities using social media platforms to subsidize their operations. Solicitations may begin as a social media post, an email, a cold call, or a crowdfunding website request.

Common red flags indicating possible fraudulent activity may include:

  • Unsolicited emails seeking donations. If looking to fund a charity, visit the website
    directly rather than clicking on links in emails.
  • “Charities” asking you to pay with cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Criminals will often encourage payment by methods that make it difficult to track or seek reimbursement.

To avoid charity frauds:

  • Research new charities online and verify phone numbers or email addresses before
  • If giving to a well-known, established charity, ensure that you are using the correct
    website. Criminals have been known to engage in “domain spoofing” or “URL
    hijacking” to create look-alike websites with URLs similar in appearance to those
    of known organizations. For more information on domain spoofing, visit here.
  • Use the Internal Revenue Service’s website here to see if the charity you are using is registered. “Charity scams can prey on both local communities and vulnerable populations devastated by life-altering catastrophes,” said Nanz. “If you think you have been targeted by a charity scam, report the incident. The FBI is committed to preventing scams and protecting the public from their devastating impact.”
  • Report charity scams via the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, 1-800-
    CALL-FBI, or FBI Springfield at 217-522-9675.