Fake Check Scam Targeting Charities Nationwide with Bogus Donations

Fake Check Scam Targeting Charities Nationwide with Bogus Donations
Image: NCCC
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 believe that you've been contacted by a scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.