Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare has urged residents to stay vigilant when giving to charity amid reports of fraudsters seeking to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Oppong-Asare, a former Bexley Councillor, said her office was aware of an increase in reports of scammers targeting vulnerable people.
Among the examples were crooks posing as charity volunteers offering to help with shopping, as well as offering fake virus testing, or claiming to be raising funds for charity.
Ms Oppong-Asare said the scams diverted vital funds away from the 265 genuine registered charities in her constituency and hundreds of other national charities.
“There are so many amazing charities supporting vulnerable people around Erith and Thamesmead during this crisis such as Greenwich Foodbank, Mind in Bexley, Solace and many more,” the Labour MP said.
“It is concerning that scammers are using this pandemic as a means to target vulnerable people and take aid from those who are working flat out to help support our community.”
The first-term MP added despite the warnings, she had heard many more positive stories arising from the community’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis.
“Despite hearing reports of scams, I have heard many more stories of generosity and kindness throughout the community since this crisis began,” she said.
“From the person running a marathon in their back garden to the hundreds who have volunteered to help deliver essential items to vulnerable people.
“I would like to thank and praise everyone that has pulled together to see us through these difficult times.”
In nearby Greenwich, more than 600 volunteers are ready to take to the streets to support vulnerable residents as part of a Greenwich Council-coordinated scheme to help, while over 1,700 signed up to help last month.
Simple ways of making sure you give safely to registered charities:
- Check the charity’s name and registration number at gov.uk/checkcharity. Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
- Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
- Exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction, for example, to donate online, visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself.
- Ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company.
- Finally, if in doubt about an approach, give to a charity that you have an existing relationship with.
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