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Recent scams target charity organizations in Montana



Helena, Montana – Donations are how nonprofits stay afloat, so having a sizable windfall could result in important organizational upgrades.

However, scammers have been focusing on nearby NGOs lately to steal tens of thousands of dollars.

“It was a cashier’s check, very authentic looking, and it was $191,000. And immediately, I went to my executive director, and our brains went to all of these cool things that we could do with this money,” said Lewis and Clark Humane Society director of development and communications Cassidy Cook.
They received a call last week from a donor going by the name “Alphanso Blye.”

Although the same scammer targeted 25 NGOs in Montana, including them, the Montana Nonprofit Association believes it can “easily estimate that it is at least double that.”

The con artist first delivers a sizable cheque. Subsequently, they claim that there was an error and ask for a partial refund.

Remember that the check he sent in the original is fake. The NGO is tricked into returning the funds since banks take approximately thirty days to process checks.

“He’s assuming that to make a donor happy, an organization will immediately send him the money that he asks for, and then those funds essentially won’t go through,” Cook said.
The Montana Nonprofit Association has received calls on similar scams across the state.
“A nonprofit to think for even a couple days that they got a huge donation, and then to realize it’s just somebody trying to trick them out of money, that’s heartbreaking. That’s really tough,” said Kate Arpin from the Montana Nonprofit Association.
The response from the Lewis and Clark Humane Society was similar.
“These things that we’ve been discussing that feel like pipe dreams, we can probably do. And then, within 24 to 48 hours, to have that rug pulled out from under you was pretty hard,” Cook said.
According to the Montana Department of Justice, awareness and prevention are the keys to avoiding being duped, since there have been no nonprofit victims of the scammer.
The supervising attorney for The Office of Consumer Protection, Jake Griffith, said, “Making sure that the check is clearing the bank’s process, that it’s not fraudulent. Just because there is access to funds doesn’t mean it’s cleared.”

All Montana banks received a warning from the Montana Nonprofit Association not to cash cheques made out under the scammers’ identity.

The Montana Department of Justice should also be notified of any nonprofit scams, however, you can report them through the Montana Nonprofit Association here.

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