Whenever a catastrophe occurs, some people will always try to make a profit out of it. This is currently happening with the recent explosion in Lebanon. While donations pour in to help the victims, a lot of fraudulent websites have popped up to try and divert some of the money.
On the 4th of August 2020, Lebanon experienced an unprecedented tragedy. In the heart of Beirut, the country’s capital, a stock of ammonium nitrate exploded causing 171 deaths, and leaving thousands injured. Because of the substantial damage in the surrounding area, more than 300.000 people are currently homeless. The images were seen around the world, prompting an international show of solidarity. Donations are pouring in to help those affected, attracting the attention of scammers trying to pass themselves off as charities.
In order to help, Evina used its knowledge in cybersecurity to check out numerous websites calling for donations for Lebanon, and identified which were legitimate websites and which ones were scams. Before sending money to a website, be certain to check the following points to make sure your donation will actually be of use to Lebanon.
Each site must clearly display the name of the organisation as well as its address, and the mandatory terms and conditions. A simple Google search using the website’s name or URL generally unearths any negative existing feedback on the internet. Also check if there are any links to an external website or social network. Finally, do a search using any identifiable information given on the site, like the name of the PayPal account or the e-mail address. If it’s a scam, they will often appear on other fake websites.
Websites to avoid
When analyzing these websites, Evina found enough elements to officially call them out as scams.
This site doesn’t display either its name, address or the terms and conditions. Their PayPal account PIXER doesn’t belong to any known organisation. However, this account is used by another suspicious website, https://www.8cups.online, which again doesn’t include an address, and their social network links don’t work.
This website doesn’t provide an address or the terms and conditions, and is completely unknown on Google or social networking platforms. Additionally, when you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll receive an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aside from the missing address and terms and conditions, this is a phishing site asking for donations in cryptocurrency. It is impersonating another site (https://impactbeirutlebanon.com) by using the same logo and a similar URL.
Yet again, the first clue with this website is the missing terms and conditions. However, this one is more easily spotted thanks to a link to a completely unrelated Instagram account. Additionally, the webmaster tried to promote his site on Reddit but ended up deleting his post when several comments called it out as a scam.
This website includes broken links to social networks, but what really helped identify this website as a scam was the contact e-mail email@example.com. The same address is used by numerous other websites that always ask for donations. This includes websites about surfing, weddings, or Android news.
Websites to safely donate
The fact that these scams exist shouldn’t discourage you to help out the Lebanese population. Evina has compiled the following list of recommended websites, checked by us, so you can safely donate.
ASHRAFIEH 2020: https://www.just-help.org/c/relieffund
BEIT EL BARAKA: https://www.beitelbaraka.org
RIFAK el DARB: https://www.just-help.org/c/rifaqeldarb
BAYTNA BAYTAK: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-beirut-explosion
IMPACT LEBANON: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lebanon-relief
OFFRE JOIE: https://www.givingloop.org/offrejoie
LEBANESE RED CROSS: https://www.supportlrc.app/donate/
LEBANESE FOOD BANKS: https://lebanesefoodbank.org/donate/