April 18, 2018
There’s a new scam in town, and ministries and other organizations collecting donations are the primary target. If your ministry collects tithes or donations, you could be targeted by scammers practicing donation overpayment fraud.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a donation comes in to your ministry for $5,000. The phony donor contacts your organization and says it was a mistake, “I only meant to give $50. Please reimburse me the difference.” The fake donor will ask you to cut a check or to do the reimbursement electronically, supplying a different credit card number than the one that was used to make the original donation. The scammer may ask to pick up the check in person, give you a temporary address for mailing, or ask you to wire the money directly into a fake bank account. It isn’t until later that your organization is hit with a loss because of insufficient funds for the initial donation.
The best way to prevent falling victim to this type of scam is to have policies in place regarding payment and donation reimbursements. Check with your ministry’s online payment service provider and bank for their recommendations. They can advise you on a safe waiting period for making a reimbursement and how to protect against phony donors. If you suspect a phony donor, a quick phone call to your bank or payment service can help you verify.
Be sure to report any attempts your ministry encounters to the FBI Internet Crimes Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.