Watch out for Japan donation scams

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Watch out for Japan donation scams


Police yesterday warned the public to be wary of scammers preying on sympathetic people wanting to donate money to the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.

Namdaemun Police yesterday questioned two people for allegedly violating a donation collection law by running an online charity without the government’s permission.

According to police, two men surnamed Lee and Kim sent out Twitter messages to 70,000 Korean Twitter users saying they were collecting donations for earthquake victims in Japan, which were supposed to be delivered to the Japanese Red Cross Society. The two men raised a total of 2.75 million won since they started the campaign on Wednesday, but the Korean Red Cross asked the police to intervene.

Lee and Kim told the police they intended to give the money to the Japan Red Cross.

“Donors can choose where they want to donate,” said an official at the Korean Red Cross. “But we reported this matter to police because we’re concerned that some people could become victims of scams that use the name Red Cross without permission from responsible authorities. After the Haiti earthquake, there were reported cases of scammers who collected money by saying they were from the Korean Red Cross.”

Police said donating money to organizations that are registered with the government as legal charities is the best way avoid scams. They reminded the public that collecting donations without government permission is illegal under Korean law.

Some legitimate local charities include the Korean Red Cross, Korea Disaster Relief, and ChildFund Korea. The JoongAng Ilbo is helping the three organizations in the Japan donation drive.

The Korean Red Cross is collecting money for quake victims by bank transfer at Woori Bank 1005-899-020202.

You can donate to Korea Disaster Relief through your cell phone. If you call 060-701-1004, 2,000 won ($1.78) will automatically be charged to your phone bill. It is also accepting donations by bank transfer at Nonghyup 106906-64-013414.

Child Fund Korea is also accepting donations by phone at 060-700-1580. For each call, 3,000 won will be charged to your phone bill. A donor can also wire money to the Industrial Bank of Korea 035-100410-01-947.

By Kim Mi-ju []

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