From fighting cholera, helping the children of Syria, to cleaning up hurricane Matthew in Haiti, UNICEF is one of the most respected non-profits. And now it appears someone is trying to capitalize on that good name to cheat you.
The letter going out in the mail says because you once donated to UNICEF, you're were entered into a prize drawing. And lucky you, you just won $1.2 million! Yeah, not so fast!
When Betty got the letter, she couldn't believe it.
“As soon as I saw UNICEF donation organization with organization spelled wrong, I thought ought oh, this is one of those letters,” she said.
The letter says to get your prize you have to call this special hot line and give them information. I tested it out. Right away, a red flag. Some dude answered like it was a personal phone call. He didn't say the organization's name. He didn’t sound like a trained receptionist. And it wasn't long before the personal questions started. Like he wanted my birthday.
Enough was enough. As soon as I told him I was a reporter, he clammed up and promised to have a supervisor call me back. That never happened.
"I think they wanted to steal my identity probably. Or if they could make be believe this was real, Then they'd say we'll give you the check at a certain time, but you've got to give us a little bit of money first to cover our costs to get to you," Betty said.
I've alerted UNICEF. They confirm the letter is a fake, writing:
This is neither an affiliate of UNICEF nor of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. It is a fraudulent scheme, designed to solicit personal financial information. UNICEF never participates in lottery awards nor sends sample checks to solicit personal financial information. Unfortunately, scams such as these are not uncommon. Supplying personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account information, or any associated passwords may lead to identity theft.
Our advice to your viewers would be to have no further contact with these individuals. If they are based in the U.S. and wish to support UNICEF’s work on behalf of children, then they need to do so via the “U.S. Fund for UNICEF”. If in any doubt about whether they have been approached by a genuine UNICEF representative, they can call our Customer Relations Team +1 (800) 367-5437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to verify. They can also visit www.unicefusa.org to find out more.
We would also advise your viewers to be aware of names that sound like legitimate organizations, designed to mimic. They can visit www.give.org to check the organization meets the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance's Standards for Charity Accountability.
If you do decide to donate via www.unicefusa.org , rest assured that the U.S. Fund for UNICEF adheres to Internet industry standards and best practices when it comes to ensuring your online giving is safe and secure.
To see more investigations like this follow 2 Wants To Know's Ben Briscoe on social media:
Facebook: Ben Briscoe WFMY
Stay connected 24/7 via WFMY News 2