The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shut down a major charity fraud scheme that reportedly received $110 million from victims. The scam utilized bots to carry out voice phishing and solicitation calls, convincing victims they were donating to charity projects that helped firefighters, veterans and children. The FTC alleges that the Associated Community Services (ACS) organization was aware they were spending little to no money on the charities they claimed to support. ACS was responsible for a scam involving cancer support in 2015 and has been the subject of 20 prior law enforcement actions. ACS and partner companies Central Processing Services and Community Services Appeal, as well as their owners, have agreed to settle with the FTC over the charges.
Voice phishing and telephonic solicitation scams are fairly low risk, high reward scams. They come in many forms such as posing as financial institutions, charities, or government organizations to request sensitive information in order to exploit victims. To avoid becoming a victim of these scams, be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from unknown individuals claiming to be from a legitimate organization. Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information. If possible, try to verify the caller’s identity directly with the company. If you do receive a suspicious call, document the number as well as the domain the caller tried to send you to and report the information to law enforcement. Limit the amount of personal information you post on social networking sites. This may be used to construct a targeted attack at a specific victim.