Recently, we reported on the concerning rise in fake charity scams in the aftermath of the conflict in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there is no low cybercriminals will not stoop to in order to make a quick buck — and taking advantage of people’s empathy and generosity has long been a favored tactic.
Scams Involving the Misuse of Mercury One’s Identity
Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity that was founded in 2011 by conservative political commentator Glenn Beck. Mercury One is a legitimate relief organization, and its official site is mercuryone.org. Unfortunately, scammers have been contacting would-be victims under the guise of Mercury One in order to steal people’s money and personal information.
To be clear, we have no indication that Mercury One is involved with the scammers who are using its name and attempting to divert donations away from Mercury One’s legitimate URL. But any communication that uses Mercury One’s name but that does not send readers to Mercury One’s website/URL is not to be trusted.
People have reported receiving text messages claiming to be from Mercury One that mimic — or even copy exactly — legitimate texts from Mercury One. The included links in the text messages send readers to a phishing site designed to steal their personal information, including payment details. Such text messages were not sent by Mercury One, but by scammers wrongfully impersonating the charity. The phishing site is operated by scammers too and isn’t affiliated with Mercury One in any way.
If you receive a text message that claims to be from Mercury One, you should verify the included URL before entering any information. If you want to donate, but you have concerns about the legitimacy of a link you have received, the safest practice is to visit Mercury One’s official website directly and donate there.
How to Protect Yourself
- Double-check the sender’s mobile number/email address.
- Be suspicious of free gifts or prizes as these are highly likely to be dangerous.
- Regarding charities, always do your research into the organization. These are good links: Charity Navigator & Charity Watch.
- Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of scams: grammatical mistakes, grand claims, exclamation marks (!).
- Never click links or attachments from unknown sources. Use Trend Micro Check to detect scams with ease!
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