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Caritas Philippines warns of bogus appeals for aid

Scammers using recent typhoons to try and cheat would-be donors

Caritas Philippines warns of bogus appeals for aid

Residents walk past their house littered with debris and trash in Marikina City in suburban Manila on Nov. 13, a day after Typhoon Vamco hit the area. (Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP)

The Catholic Church’s social arm has warned Catholics to be careful when giving donations to so-called church groups supposedly helping victims of recent typhoons.

Caritas Philippines said fake typhoon donation campaigns were making the rounds on social media asking churchgoers to deposit money in spurious bank accounts.

“Beware of fake donation drives. Let us help our fellow Filipinos and not take advantage of the calamities. Keep spreading the charity virus … but let us not fool others for selfish interests,” Caritas’ executive director Father Anton Pascual said Nov. 17.

He said Caritas had received reports that there were fake online donation drives on social media showing pictures of typhoon evacuees. Others showed Facebook accounts belonging to bogus foundations with personal bank accounts.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council issued a similar warning.

“We are issuing this warning to all our fellow Filipinos who wish to help the victims of the recent calamities. Please be careful and be cautious before giving any cash donation or aid. There are individuals who are taking advantage of this situation by fooling the public to believe they were legitimate charities,” it said.

Former bishops’ conference president Archbishop Socrates Villegas has posted on social media screenshots of a fake Facebook account supposedly belonging to him with messages asking for donations from churchgoers.

“We are working on relief operations for our brethren in Cagayan [province] who are victims of the recent typhoon [Vamco] … Maybe we can ask from you some more sacks of rice and canned goods. Hoping to hear from you the soonest. God bless you always,” the appeal on the fake account says.

Another purported message from Archbishop Villegas was posted with bank details of a certain Monsignor Nicko San Buenaventura.

“Regards to everyone and see you soonest! Please advise once deposited so I can forward you an official receipt,” it said.

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Former lawmaker Bam Aquino also shared screenshots of a fake non-government organization called Kaya Natin that deceived donors of the legitimate Kaya Natin Movement foundation.

“This is not acceptable, especially if this is meant to deceive Filipinos during this difficult time,” said the former lawmaker on social media.

Caritas Philippines urged churchgoers to ask their parish to verify NGOs and foundations before donating.

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