Online scam refers to the use of internet features such as email, chat, discussion boards or websites to cheat internet users by making them pay for fake services. There are numerous online scams existing everywhere over the internet and many people unknowingly get cheated by them. One of the most infamous online scam is the Nigerian 419, familiar to most of us, where fraudsters posing as a business dealer, banker or a victimized woman propose to offer money in millions and trap the interested user to pay for transfer fee and then disappear. In modern terms, this is referred to as “Phishing.”
Although these online scams have been heavily discussed, what is little known is that small and medium-sized NGOs are most vulnerable to become quick victims to them. Often in their desperate need to raise funds for their organizations, they respond to phishing emails without being aware of the consequences. Now these phishing emails have come up with customized scams targeted solely at NGOs.
The scammers collect emails of NGOs from the internet and send invitations to international workshops or an offer of donations provided that they pay a certain fee. This may sometimes be very pleasing for some organizations who assume that they have been selected to receive an invite or a donation and they immediately respond back and even pay the fee. But when these scammers disappear, it is often too late to do anything.
In order to protect oneself from such online scams, one should firmly understand the basic principle of philanthropy: “Why would anyone select my organization for funding or for participating in the workshop without knowing about it or visiting it?” No matter what kind donor it is (individual donor or a funding agency), nobody will offer any money to your organization without knowing about your work. So next time, if such an invitation arrives in your email inbox, think whether this agency knows you or whether you had previously applied to it or corresponded with it. If not, forget it and ignore it. It is a scam to cheat you.