Consumer Report: How to avoid scams involving aid to Ukraine

Scammers are trying to take advantage of your generosity, especially online.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As people watch the horrific images in Ukraine, they feel compelled to assist. But before you give, you need to make sure your money will go where you intend.

There are new scams to watch out for that involve cryptocurrency and Airbnb.

Donations are pouring in to help Ukrainians during this crisis.

Earlier this week, students and staff at Neumann University packed over 13,000 meals to send to Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

"We all want to do something. We all feel kind of helpless being here," said Megan Camp, director of Service Learning and Community Engagement.

But if you are planning to give, make sure you participate in a legitimate project like the one at Neumann University.

Scammers are trying to take advantage of your generosity, especially online.

"They'll set up a very similar sounding name to a charitable organization and change one letter or two or transposed letters or change the extension on a website," said Sandra Guile with the Better Business Bureau.

Some people are sending aid through crypto. The Ukrainian government reportedly collected over $50 million in crypto assets.

But the Better Business Bureau cautions to vet any crypto transactions before sending money.

"We've received some reports through scam tracker regarding scams involving cryptocurrency, so it is out there," Guile said.

Another relatively new way to donate is by sending aid through Airbnb.

By booking stays in Ukraine, local hosts can get quick payouts. But make sure you're booking with legitimate hosts.

Also, beware of a new twist on old scams.

"We're now seeing email scams or GoFundMe posts or social media posts of someone who is either a family member stuck in Ukraine and needs money to get out immediately, no way to contact them. Sometimes a U.S. soldier stuck in Ukraine, not able to get out, need some funds wired to them to help out," said Chuck Minnich, owner of Foundation Capital Management, LLC. "Rarely are the emails legitimate. I would say almost never are they legitimate. The GoFundMe campaigns are more difficult."

To be safe, unless you know the GoFundMe organizer, It's better to give to reputable, well-known charities you know.

And to make sure a nonprofit is legitimate, you can check with the IRS or Charity Navigator.

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