Fake Check Scam Targeting Charities Nationwide with Bogus Donations
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Fake Check Scam Targeting Charities Nationwide with Bogus Donations

February 2, 2016

The Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) is warning charities nationwide to be on the alert for a fake check overpayment scam.

According to the WGA, the scammer uses the name "Ken McFarlane" or "Kenneth McFarlane" and claims to be a philanthropist from London, England. He initially contacts a charity via email expressing interest. He then sends a five-figure check donation to the charity via overnight mail. The problem? The check is fake.

The scammer then immediately informs the charity that a mistake has been made and that he needs a portion of the donation money (typically $10,000) returned immediately to cover the cost of a medical emergency for a child.

If the charity follows through and sends the funds back before figuring out that the original donation check is no good—that money is more than likely lost for good.

The BBB says that the name and contact information in the emails received by the targeted charities mirrors an architectural firm in the United Kingdom. The scammer even copied the firm's website in an attempt to legitimize the con.

Charities should exercise extreme caution if they are contacted in any way by "Ken McFarlane" or other unknown parties. If a sudden donation check seems too good to be true—it probably is.


If you are or suspect that you are the victim of a scam or some other illegal practice, you should file a complaint. Doing so can help protect your rights and protect others from becoming victims. If you suspect you are dealing with a scamming, you should first stop all contact to minimize that chances of further losses. Don't respond to scammers via phone, text message, email or postal mail.

In North Carolina, you can report scams and other illegal practices to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office. If you live outside North Carolina, report it to your state Attorney General. You can also submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is co-sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).