Scammers and Frauds have no shame.  No care.  They will swindle anyone.  Even charities.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen and the Montana DOJ's Office of Consumer Protection dispatched a warning to non-profit organizations of this new scam about fake donations.

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How does this work?

The scammer provides a cashier's check to the charity for a large amount of money, six digits, using an alias and claiming it is a major memorial or endowment from a deceased family member.  The check from US Bank looks legitimate, so the non-profit deposits the check.

Very soon after, the scammer contacts the charity, saying there has been an accounting error, the check was not supposed to be that large, and asking for a refund of a significant portion of the donation.  The non-profit, not wanting to upset the "donor" or stop any future contributions, promptly complies and gives a refund check.

Here's the kicker: the donor's cashier's check is fake.  The large amount is not credited into the charity's account, and the organization just gave a large sum to the fraud.

Does it affect you?  If you are an actual donor, Yes!  A %&#$ criminal stole your hard-earned money, given to do good!

Can this happen to individuals?  It could.

The story just changes a bit.  You are notified by the scammer that a past distant relative left money for you, and a check is on the way.  Then soon after the letter or call, the scammer returns with the same story of an accounting error.  Yes, you can be the victim.  DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN!

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Credit: ronstik, TSM Media Center

What can a Charity do?

According to the AG and the OCP, we should practice due diligence.  Research the donor and the deceased.  Are they legit?  Call the bank on the check.  Does the account exist?  And no matter what, DO NOT GIVE MONEY!

Turnaround is fair play.

In my humble opinion, with years of experience in the non-profit arena, the charity can tell a story too.  The executive or development director can explain that any major refund requires approval from the full board of directors, and that a meeting will need to be scheduled.  This buys time to contact the bank and see if the funds had been deposited or if the check is fraudulent.  When the latter is discovered, then maybe the fraudster can be called back into the office, with law enforcement present.

...oh, to be a fly on the wall for that...

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