Commissioner Vicari warns of Ukraine charity scams

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Rescuers work next to a building damaged by air strike in Kharkiv

TOMS RIVER, NJ – As Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, directed by President Vladimir Putin rages, Ocean County Commissioner Joe Vicari today warned residents and seniors to watch out for scam artists seeking to profit from the war.

“The news reports are heart wrenching. Families and children bombed and fleeing in terror while the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushes closer to the nation’s capital,” Vicari said.   e all want to help the victims of this senseless war. But before we send a donation, it is important to know that the money will reach those who need it most.”

Like many other disasters, scammers are abound trying to take advantage of the goodness in peoples’ hearts. Vicari said research charities before donating money to make sure they are legitimate.

“First, make sure the charity you choose is established and has the ability to actually provide aid to Ukrainian citizens and refugees,” Vicari said. “Well-known organizations such as the Salvation Army, The Red Cross, World Vision and UNICEF already have the logistics in place to help the war victims.            Local churches and other faith-based organizations are also rallying to aid the war refugees.”

In a phone interview on the topic, Vicari also mentioned local charities such as St. Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toms River which is accepting checks and PayPal donations.

“While some churches had at first accepted materials such as nonperishable food items, clothing, diapers and blankets, many are now requesting only monetary donations,” Vicari said. “There is a great cost in transporting materials into the war zone. Sending money is the best option to ensure the people who need help receive it as quickly as possible.”

 But before writing that check or clicking that PayPal link, Vicari warned would-be donors to make sure they are not falling for a scam.

  “Beware of phone calls or emails asking for money,” he said. “Many of our seniors are especially vulnerable to scam artists who prey on elderly residents.”

 Vicari also warned of robocall spam.

“A common practice among scammers is to ask an unsuspecting donor to purchase gift cards to aid a charity,” Vicari said. “If you are asked to buy gift cards, it’s probably a scam.”

Vicari said that the threat of scammers in the wake of the Ukrainian war has become so prevalent that the FBI has issued a warning about the problem.