Donation scam targeting nonprofits
Better Business Bureau serving Central Virginia is issuing an updated alert about a scam artist alleging to be a philanthropist in London, England. So far, 18 Richmond-area charitable organizations have reported to BBB being emailed by “Ken McFarlane” or “Kenneth McFarlane”, with offers of 5-figure donations.
As of January 29, three local charities received and deposited $39,850 checks. They were each contacted by “McFarlane” immediately claiming that a mistake had been made and asking them to return $10,000 as soon as possible. The checks turned out to be worthless. Since then, many more have reported a similar experience.
The name & contact info in emails received by local charities mirrors an architectural firm in the UK. The scam artists have copied the UK firm’s website in an attempt to legitimize themselves.
BBB urges charities to use extreme caution if they are contacted in any way by “Ken McFarlane” or other unknown parties. If you receive this check, do not deposit it. Even more, it’s extremely unlikely that a huge donation will appear out of thin air.