It is widely known that Australia is in the midst of a terrifying Bushfire season which have had a devastating effect on our residents, wildlife and fire services and others, physically, mentally and financially. The old Australian adage about how when times are tough, mateship prevails has proven to be true and in typical fashion the people of Australia have rallied. We have seen unprecedented levels of donations well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, to assist the victims, fire services, charities and wildlife agencies.
While many of these organisations are legitimately accepting donations to assist those in need, we have also seen an increase of scammers defrauding people by claiming to be assisting those affected by the bushfire disaster.
If you have been a victim of a scam, it is unlikely that you will be able to get your money back. This is because it is usually very difficult for authorities to find the people guilty of these offences and charge them. However if you think you have been scammed, you should make a report to the police as soon as possible. They have jurisdiction to follow up these reports providing that the scammers are in Australia. If the scam originated outside of Australia, then there is very little the Police can do for you. You should also report it to Scamwatch which is a government run website that warns citizens of the latest scams.
As mentioned above it is unlikely you will be able to recover your money from a scammer. You may be able to recover it if your bank can stop the money transfer, so contact them immediately. They may also be able to stop the scammers from taking any more of your money, by blocking transactions.
Some tips to ensure you are donating to a legitimate charity or organisation:
1. Do not donate to a charity you cannot verify. You can search for registered charities and not-for-profits online at https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity.
2. Avoid donating on charity platforms that don’t verify the legitimacy of the fundraiser.
3. Avoid giving your credit card details to anyone who cannot be verified.
4. Donate to established known charities with verifiable fundraising goals.
It is important to report scams, even if you cannot get your money back to prevent other people from falling victim to the same scam.
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