Join The NonProfit Times: or Become a member

Subscribe: Print Publication or Newsletter

Stay connected.
Stay informed.

Check-Writing Scam Targets Charities

By Andy Segedin - February 3, 2016

A check-writing scam targeting nonprofits in the Richmond, Va., area has the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) warning to be on the alert for big checks followed by emails seeking refunds.

Some 18 organizations in the Richmond area recently reported receiving emails from “Ken McFarlane” or “Kenneth McFarlane” with offers of a five-figure donation. The name and contact information mirrors those of an architectural firm in the United Kingdom. Three of the charities received and deposited $39,850 in checks. “McFarlane” soon reached back out to the charities claiming that a mistake had been made and asked that $10,000 be sent back. The checks turned out to be fraudulent.

The charities reportedly did not follow through with the request, but faced bank fees associated with depositing fraudulent checks.

The scam is an old one, said Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer for BBB WGA, typically targeted at businesses. A scammer would place a large order with a business, claim there was a mistake and that the order was too big and ask for money to be sent back. The scams are typically executed quickly and pervasively, with the name and some details changed as to avoid detection. “The scam is an old con just with a new audience,” Weiner said.

Weiner said that if a few charity officials have reported being fooled, it is likely that there are others who are remaining silent. It is important for those executives to come forward, he said, to help spread the word. He warned to be wary of any request for money back, especially given the time it takes to detect whether a check is fraudulent. If a charity’s staff believes that it has been targeted, they are advised to contact the Attorney General’s office of the state the charity is located in for steps to follow.

Thomas Gallagher, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Virginia, said that the scam was first reported late last week and has moved quickly. Through experience, Gallagher does not believe that the scam has been limited to the Richmond area or organizations of any specific type or size. “There is no reason in the world why it would stop here,” he said. “And from the sounds of charities that have come to us, they are all over the spectrum.”

Fundraisers might be tempted to deposit a big check when it comes in, but Gallagher preaches caution and advises against depositing large donations that seemingly came out of the blue. “You don’t get $40,000 unless you’ve developed a relationship,” Gallagher said. “The biggest thing, things don’t happen this way. We don’t get big money coming out of nowhere.”

Podcast_forHub_500x500

Sponsored Podcasts

Welcome to the Raise & Engage podcast, a filters-off series for nonprofit professionals hosted by Blackbaud's straight-shooting expert Danielle Johnson Vermenton. During this open-mic session, you’ll hear honest advice to help YOU do more for your cause.

Episode 6: The Power of ‘No’ at Work|| daniellejohnson-76

You have a job description, but on any given day, you're probably doing dozens of things outside the scope of that description. Combine that with the challenge of a fast-paced environment and the shifting priorities of funders, colleagues, and board members and it’s easy to fall short of doing your best. By being mindful of your limitations and capacity—and saying “no” when your plate is full—you can actually do more for your cause. In the sixth installment of the Raise and Engage podcast Danielle Johnson and Robin Anderson discuss the power of saying “no” at work.

Episode 5: Professional Development: Getting Un-Stuck|| daniellejohnson-76

In the most recent episode of Raise + Engage, Danielle is back with Brian Reich from little m media to discuss how nonprofit professionals can stay motivated and energized in their day-to-day roles. Brian shares his experience working with nonprofits and the lessons and tips he's learn from and shared with them over the years, including tips for avoiding a professional rut, creating forward momentum in your career and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you're considering making a career move or want to ensure you're on the right path, you won't want to miss this inspo-packed episode!

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane, is all about tips, tricks and tools for sanity. Blackbaud’s own interactive product marketer, Julia Lenz, joins host Danielle Johnson to share some high tech. (and no tech.) productivity tips to help nonprofit professionals stay sane in the crazy world of philanthropy.

Tune in to hear:

  • Tips for how to spend the first 30 minutes of your day
  • The benefits of 15 minute meetings
  • Why notebooks are still relevant to a successful organization
  • Ideas for better managing your inbox
  • Why you should take lunch outside the box
  • ...and much more!
Don’t forget to visit the #NoFilterNonprofit Hub afterwards to download our newest tip sheet10 Productivity Hacks for Nonprofits.

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff || daniellejohnson-76

Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff In episode 3 of the Raise + Engage podcast, Danielle Johnson is joined by Chris Geady and William DaSilva, two IT experts in the nonprofit space, to talk technology integration for NPOs: when you need it, when you don’t, and how to do it successfully.


Tune in to hear:

  • When to say NO to integration
  • How to set your strategic plan before even looking at technologies
  • Ways to get your entire team on board
  • The importance of identifying a project lead
  • The RFP process - how it should and should not go
And William shares a story about a nonprofit that may or may not have still been using a typewriter. You don't want to miss this one!

Episode 2: From Socially Awkward to Socially Awesome! || daniellejohnson-76

According to Danielle Johnson, straight-shooting host of the Raise + Engage podcast series, if your staff members aren’t the number one advocates for your cause on social media, you’re failing. In the most recent episode, Danielle is joined by Blackbaud’s own social media guru Madeline Turner to discuss overcoming social struggles and creating a social ambassador program at your organization. This entertaining and insightful duo dishes on the importance of making your social media presence human, making the case for a formal social program to leadership, how University of Michigan turned a one time social media campaign into a long term social program, and how Madeline's mom unknowingly became a social ambassador on #GivingTuesday.

Episode 1: Corporate Culture & Development: Shake It Up! || daniellejohnson-76

In the premiere episode of Raise & Engage, Danielle is joined by three straight-shooting nonprofit rock-stars: Jodi Smith of Sanford Health Systems, Veronica Brown of Chicago Public Library Foundation and Ali Burke of Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation. The group talks organizational culture, problem employees, why its important to celebrate and how to shake things up this year and build a better more authentic team that gets stuff done!

Newsletters

Stay informed, catch latest trends in the nonprofit space.

Subscribe to Our Free Newsletter

No obligation, unsubscribe at anytime.

Success! Check your email inbox.

Follow Us On Twitter

NPT 2016 Buyers' Guide

Newsletter Sign-up



click here to return to the previous page