News Jan 17, 2017 03:10 PM EST

Fraudsters use counterfeit UK charity appeals to steal money via social media, emails

By Carlos Gutierrez

Fraudsters have been using emails and social media to trick British companies and members of the public to give money to fake charity appeals, the UK's charity regulator declared on Tuesday. Many companies and people have been tricked by criminal groups.

For example, emails purporting to be from Migrant Helpline, which is a genuine charity supporting migrants, were sent to individuals and businesses with a link that contained malware to steal banking details, the Charity Commission said.

The emails contained details of a fake donation to Syrian families and invited recipients to clink on a link to read more information about their donation, Migrant Helpline said in a warning posted on its website.

"We have noticed that whenever there is an increase in interest in an issue then unfortunately the criminals will try and manipulate that for their own end," a spokesman for the Charity Commission told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We are telling the public to be aware of deceptive emails from fake charities, mainly those using general terms such as 'we are donating money on behalf of migrants'. Be very aware of those and only give to trusted charities," he said by phone.

The war in Syria has been so cruel that it has forced more than 11 million people out of their homes in one of the world's biggest humanitarian crises. 

Many people have left that country and criminal organizations are taking advantage of the crisis in Syria to steal money from people and companies. They will use technology to get their goals.

Criminal groups used social media to trick British donors into giving money to a fake animal welfare appeal. The comission declared that later, the donations were later sent to overseas accounts.

It gave no details on the amount of money that has been lost through the scams. 

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