Scam alert over fake Grenfell Tower fundraisers

Emma Woollacott
computer keyboard keys with...
computer keyboard keys with...

Kind-hearted people wanting to help the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire are being warned to beware of scammers.

Since the appalling blaze at the west London tower block, there has been an outpouring of sympathy. Well-wishers are offering food, clothing, accommodation and cash.

However, according to Get Safe Online, tragic events such as this can be a field day for scammers - and the public should watch out for unsolicited approaches by email, text, social media post, or by phone.

"As the smoke still drifts from the burnt-out shell of Grenfell Tower in London's North Kensington, we are warning you to remain vigilant for fraudulent messages from scammers, exploiting the pain and misery of the victims of this tragic fire," the organisation warns.

"They may be making bogus charity appeals for financial help for victims and their families, or otherwise direct you to fake news or image websites which, if visited, could infect your connected devices with malware."

See also: Scamwatch: Facebook charity fraud

Site: Sick 'pension scam' revealed

Some scams come in the form of emails, text messages or social media posts claiming to be from victims or their families, appealing for financial help.

Others are seemingly official messages claiming to represent charitable organisations working to provide relief for victims.

"Such unsolicited approaches should be regarded with extreme caution, however authentic they seem and however traumatic the situations they describe," says Get Safe Online. "Always research charities online - the Charity Commission website is a good place to begin."

Finally, some scams exploit a rather less pleasant impulse than charity: invitations to view upsetting or sensational footage or images of the blaze. If you do this, you're in danger of ending up on a fraudulent website designed to capture your confidential details for fraud or identity theft.

Never click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails, social media posts, instant messages, or texts says Get Safe Online.

And, it adds, "If you get a phone call appealing for charitable donations following the Grenfell Tower fire, recent terrorist atrocities, natural disasters or other crises, regard it as fraudulent and put the phone down."

If you do want to help, there are a number of genuine ways to do so:

The Grenfell Tower Fire Fund, set up by local councillor Eartha Pond

The Latimer Road Fire Estate Appeal, set up by a local Muslim group

A JustGiving page set up by local resident Karolina Hanusova

The Families of Grenfell Tower JustGiving page