Officials: Be Careful Of Ukraine Donation Scams

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  OCEAN COUNTY – Members of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners want the public to know where they can donate if they wish, as they observe the shocking scenes in the news of cities bombed and families fleeing in terror while the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushes closer to the nation’s capital.

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  Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari remarked, “we all want to help the victims of this senseless war but before we send a donation, it is important to know that the money will reach those who need it most.”

  Like any other disaster, manmade or natural, the war in Ukraine is attracting scammers hoping to prey on the generosity of others. “Fortunately, just a little research will help tell the difference between a legitimate charity and a potential swindle, Vicari said.

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  He added, “first, make sure the charity you choose is established and has the ability to actually provide aid to Ukrainian citizens and refugees.”

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  Well-known organizations such as the Salvation Army, The Red Cross, World Vision and UNICEF already have the logistics in place to help the war victims. Local churches and other faith-based organizations are also rallying to aid the war refugees.

  The Commissioner noted that while some churches had at first accepted materials such as nonperishable food items, clothing, diapers and blankets, many are now requesting only monetary donations.

  Saint Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toms River for example, is accepting checks and PayPal donations.

  Commissioner Vicari said, “there is a great cost in transporting materials into the war zone. Sending money is the best option to ensure the people who need help receive it as quickly as possible.”

  Before writing that check or clicking that PayPal link, Vicari warned would-be donors to make sure they are not falling for a scam. “Beware of phone calls or emails asking for money. Many of our seniors are especially vulnerable to scam artists who prey on elderly residents.”

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  He cautioned residents not to click on unsolicited emails or provide personal or banking information online. “Robocalls asking for money should also be ignored.”

  “A common practice among scammers is to ask an unsuspecting donor to purchase gift cards to aid a charity. If you are asked to buy gift cards, it’s probably a scam,” Vicari added.

  Commissioner Vicari said that the threat of scammers in the wake of the Ukrainian war has become so prevalent that the FBI has issued a warning about the problem.

  John P. Kelly, director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, said a list of reputable charities is now available on the county’s website co.ocean.nj.us.

  Kelly added, “we encourage anyone who can make a donation to do so. The number of innocent victims from this war is growing every day. The victims and refugees need our help.”



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