Charity scams are amongst the worst of all scams. Most people believe the information they receive from a charity more readily than information from other sources, especially a major international charity like Oxfam. Oxfam have a highly respected reputation.
Such a reputation is easily used to convince people to part with money not for charitable purposes, but for fraudulent ones - to persuade people to offer their personal details, including bank account numbers. The Oxfam name has been used despicably in a recent charity scam.
How The Oxfam Charity Scam Works
As with many online scams, it usually begins with an e mail. The e mail says that the charity is offering cash grants to individuals. All you need to do is reply with your highly personal information. Of course, this includes your bank account details.
The first indication that all may not be what it seems is that the e mail is sent from a webmail address at live.com, and not from Oxfam itself. You will receive an 070 phone number to call to offer your details. It's thought that the call is directed overseas, where the scammers receive the information.
You can look out for the many different headers used on the emails, Oxfam UK Grant/Donation and Final Recipient of Oxfam GB Cash Grant being just two. Not surprisingly, the grant amounts vary, but they're usually quite substantial - 750,000 or 850,000 has been offered.
If your common sense vanishes and greed overtakes you enough that you respond to offer your personal and financial details, there's a strong possibility that you'll find your identity stolen and your bank account quickly emptied. Oxfam reported the scam to the Charity Commission and the police. It has been quick to point out that it never offers cash grants to individuals. And if it did, it would never do so in an e mail. Nor would it ask for a cash sum upfront in order to secure the grant.
How To Avoid The Scam
The first action is to make sure that your spam filter is working in your e mail account. Many e mail service providers now have effective spam filters in place, and will automatically trash suspected spam e mails.
Secondly, always be wary of a webmail address being used, rather than a proper email address. Charities will send e mails from their own e mail address and will not rely on a webmail address such as live.com.
What should I do if I receive the e mail anyway?
Firstly, you should not reply, however great the temptation. The only ones who are going to profit are the scamsters. And how likely is that a renowned charity is going to hand over such a substantial amount of money to you, when they don't even know you?
Secondly, do not call the number given. Lack of communication is the most effective way to disarm scams.
What if I'm a victim of the scam already?
If you're a victim of the Oxfam scam, you should inform your bank and request a change to your account. You should inform the police, though they may not be able to assist you. You should inform Oxfam. It may help them build a case against those behind the scam. Remember to act as quickly as possible.
Inform credit reporting agencies too. It's a common occurrence in the case of identity theft that the scamsters open a new credit account. You may request a block on this through the credit reporting agency.
If you have any stories of scams, why not share them with other people? The more people know the better. Go to www.buzzed-up.com
Emily Banks/Freelance Writer. Why not visit Buzzed Up?