The Erith & Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare has warned her constituents about charity scammers trying to cash in on worries over the coronavirus emergency.
Oppong-Asare’s concerns come after Greenwich Council warned of shops selling dodgy masks and sanitisers, while there have been widespread reports of crooks knocking on people’s doors claiming to be testing for the virus.
She echoed calls from the Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator for people to be vigilant if they are asked to give to charity.
Legitimate charities will mostly be registered with the Charity Commission (these include the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust Charitable Fund, which 853 is fundraising for).
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Oppong-Asare said: “There are so many amazing charities supporting vulnerable people around Erith and Thamesmead during this crisis such as Greenwich Foodbank, Mind in Bexley, Solace and many more. It is concerning that scammers are using this pandemic as a means to target vulnerable people and take aid from those who are working flat out to help support our community.
“Despite hearing reports of scams, I have heard many more stories of generosity and kindness throughout the community since this crisis began. From the person running a marathon in their back garden to the hundreds who have volunteered to help deliver essential items to vulnerable people.
“I would like to thank and praise everyone that has pulled together to see us through these difficult times. If you are able to volunteer your time or donate to local support groups, I know this is very much needed as many services are over stretched right now. However, please read the recommendations of giving safely carefully and make sure your time and money goes to the right place.”
Louise Baxter, the head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: “As people stay indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, criminals are preying on people in vulnerable situations who are isolated and living alone. The criminals often claim to represent charities to help them appear legitimate before taking the victim’s money. There are genuine charities providing support, so consumers should be vigilant and ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent a charity.”
There are simple ways of making sure you give safely to registered charities:
- Check the charity’s name and registration number at gov.uk/checkcharity. Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
- Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
- Exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction, for example, to donate online, visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself.
- Ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company.
- Finally, if in doubt about an approach, give to a charity that you have an existing relationship with.
Advice on spotting scams, and training on how to advise vulnerable people to spot scams, can be found at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.
- Official figures on virus spread
- Official info: Government | Greenwich | Lewisham | Bexley
- Volunteer to help your neighbours: Greenwich | Lewisham | Bexley | NHS
- Don’t stockpile, give to a food bank: Greenwich | Lewisham | Bexley
- NHS advice | Stay at home | Wash your hands more often
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