MoneyGram (NYSE: MGI), a leading global money transfer company, is warning consumers who are in a giving mood not to get taken by a charity scam this tax season.
During 2012, the company says victims of charity scams lost an average of $824 each time they sent money intended for a non-profit organization.
“There are a couple key times during the year when consumers think about charitable giving – at the end of the year and as they prepare their tax returns and tally their charitable deductions. During these times, they may notice they are receiving an increase in charity and giving requests by e-mail, mail boxes, and over the phone,” said Kim Garner, senior vice president of global security and investigations for MoneyGram. “Many of these are scams; fraudsters prey upon consumers during these times. If a charity asks for a donation by money transfer, it’s probably a scam. As a rule, never send a wire transfer to someone you don’t know – you may lose the money and the intended tax deduction as well.”
“It would certainly be unusual for a charity to request a donation via MoneyGram. Before giving, donors are well advised to find out if the charity meets the 20 Better Business Bureau (BBB) charity standards by visiting give.org,” says H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “And, also confirm if the charity has received charitable tax-exempt status from the IRS, especially if you intend to claim a deduction at tax time.”The charity scam occurs when a fraudster asks a victim to donate to a particular cause or organization. The organization may sound similar to a legitimate charity, and may even have a fake website made to look like an organization’s official site. In all cases, the scam ends the same way: A victim wires money and cannot get it back.