Fraudsters using Ukraine crisis to get people’s money

Published: Thursday, March 6 2014 7:10 p.m. MST

Ukrainian flag flies on the Ukrainian naval vessel Slavutich as Russian soldiers guard a pier where the vessel is moored, in Sevastopol, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Ivan Sekretarev, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — Scammers are using the situation in Ukraine to steal money from unsuspecting people.

Emails are already circulating in Utah asking for money to help Ukrainian people protect their government against Russia.

The email reads in part: "Dear American people. Ukrainian peoples appeals to You. Peoples who urgently need's your help. We, the ordinary citizens of Ukraine , urgently need your help. Financial assistance. Our country has been ruined, the coffers no money... we appeal to you, ordinary citizens requesting financial assistance. We hope for your understanding and possible support.”

The email had several red flags: insisting on action right away, misspellings and grammar problems.

"Charity scams get magnified and multiplied in a situation where there is a crisis," said Daniel O'Bannon, director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. “Fraudsters will stop at nothing to take advantage of other people.”

The high-pressure tactic is a way to catch people off guard and take advantage of them when they are not at their best, he said.

"As much as we want to assist other people, we need to make sure we are not lining the pockets of fraudsters," O’Bannon said.

He says people need to do their homework and give to a reputable charity instead. O'Bannon recommends people make sure the charity is registered with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection to make sure the money is going to the right place.

“A scam artist’s worst nightmare is an educated consumer,” he said.

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