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Public vigilance urged in dealing with online charity campaigns

By Mohammad Ghazal - Jan 29,2014 - Last updated at Jan 29,2014

AMMAN — The Public Security Department (PSD) on Wednesday warned against fake campaigns and advertisements on social networking sites that solicit donations to help Syrian refugees in the Kingdom.

The PSD urged those wishing to provide in-kind or cash assistance for Syrian refugees to send their donations through official entities or licensed local and international NGOs to avoid falling victim to fraud.

In a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times, the department said two Arabs filed complaints that they were defrauded and deceived by a campaign on a social networking site purporting to collect donations to help needy Syrians in Jordan.

The two Arabs said they transferred $2,000 each.

The PSD said investigation revealed that the creator of the page claimed it belongs to a well-known Arab figure concerned with helping the Syrian refugees and asked people to make money transfers.

The police succeeded in identifying the suspect who created the page, and he confessed to collaborating with two others.

The three suspects, who admitted receiving $4,000 in donations, were arrested and referred to court, the PSD said.

A social media expert explained that there are a “few ways” for users to check whether a page is genuine or not.

“Generally, social media users should not trust any page created online or any ad asking for donations or money, because the majority of them are fake,” the expert, who asked not to be named, told The Jordan Times.

“Legitimate pages are usually classified by Facebook for example as verified pages. So a person who sees a page on Facebook can check near the name if there is a sign saying the page is verified.”

“If that is the case, then the page is authentic and there is no fraud, as Facebook keeps a close eye on all pages,” he noted.

“People should only donate to NGOs or societies that are registered with the Ministry of Social Development and they should deal with well-known entities,” the expert added.

“Even after taking all that into account, it is hard to be 100 per cent sure whether a page is fake or not, so people need to be careful when donating online.”

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