A fraudulent donation-solicitation scheme has targeted supporters of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. The Owings Mills, Md.-based organization placed an alert on its website today warning supporters that the email, made to appear to have been sent by the foundation, has been disseminated. The alert has also been emailed to constituents.
The alert reported that the email was sent to alumni of the foundation’s Israel Mission. The email includes an appeal for a young boy in need of medical treatment. The alert was intended to be a proactive measure to alert the public that the foundation has no knowledge of such a campaign, nor does it solicit donations.
The source of the email has been made to appear as if it is coming from the foundation. It also features a spoofed donation portal made to appear to be that of PayPal. Supporters are being asked to disregard any such emails. The matter is still under further investigation.
Craig Demchak, director of marketing and communications, responded to a request for further comment via email, stating that the email appears to be of the typical phishing variety. Phishing emails often seek to obtain information such as usernames, passwords, and credit-card information by posing as a familiar and trusted entity. As the email did not come from the foundation, leaders were unaware of its existence until it was brought to their attention by a recipient.
“While phishing scams are nothing new, the use in this case of our foundation name is what precipitated our alert this morning,” Demchak said. “We want people to know that the email is not from us.”
Nonprofits and their supporters being targeted in phishing and other scams is not unusual. The American Museum of Natural History was involved in a $2.8-million email phishing scam in 2016. Other hacks in recent years include those perpetrated against Goodwill Industries, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, and Utah Food Bank.