Another scam to beware: phishing for W-2 info

February 7, 2017, 7:26 am
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Ok, so you know it is a scam if you get a call from “the IRS” saying you have to pay your tax bill right this instant because the local cops are on the way to arrest you.

If you get one of those calls, hang up. Don’t even talk.

Here’s the newest phishing scam now starting to hit charities.

Kelly Phillips Erb explains the new scheme: IRS Issues Urgent Alert as W-2 Phishing Scam Spreads During Tax Season.

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After reading about the mess World Vision is in, ask yourself what you are doing to prevent a similar disaster from disrupting your programs.

August 10, 2016, 7:00 am
Question this manager is pondering: Do we have good enough controls to prevent this from happening in our field programs? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Question this manager is pondering: Are our controls good enough to prevent something like this from happening in our field programs?
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few articles to follow up on the accusations a World Vision manager allegedly routed aid money to a terrorist organization.

  • Looks like the situation with the Gaza branch of World Vision could turn into an accounting argument.
  • Response from World Vision.
  • Other aid workers charged.
  • Finally, more questions for managers and finance teams to ponder.

A number of public comments on twitter are claiming the total budget for the Gaza branch is only $2.2M a year.

Some people making this comment usually continue the discussion by calling into question the entire set of accusations from the Israeli government because the current claim is the manager diverted approximately $7 million a year.

This position implies that accusations of diverting $7M a year when the budget is only $2.2M means the accusations are untrue.

8/8 – AP, The Big Story – World Vision: Israeli charges based on “huge gap” in numbers – Article points out the intelligence agency accuses the program manager of diverting food, agricultural equipment, and medical supplies in addition to currency. That means there was in-kind material as well as heavy equipment.

The accounting argument appears towards the end of the article. A Foreign Ministry representative is guessing that the stated budget does not include in-in-kind donations.

A World Vision representative in Germany says the budget of $22.2M for the Gaza office over the last decade does include in-kind materials.

So, we may wind up with this being an accounting issue in addition to a loaded political issue on top of an alleged defalcation issue carrying over into alleged terrorism funding issue.

8/9 – Al Jazeera – Christian charity ‘top of Israel’s target list’ – It will help you filter news you hear about the manager of the Gaza office if you keep in mind the visible political agenda you will see in much reporting.

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Initial reaction to alleged diversion of World Vision funds

August 8, 2016, 7:00 am
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How can you tell who is really behind the mask, and what is he doing inside your organization? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Last week, the Israeli intelligence service accused a World Vision manager of diverting resources to Hamas. The allegation is he diverted about 60% of the annual funds flowing through the Gaza office, with the amount diverted allegedly around $7M a year.

Some initial reactions are surfacing from donors. Also, some context for magnitude of the alleged amount. Finally, some questions to ponder for leaders of charities and those of us who audit NPOs.

8/4 – World Vision – Statement on World Vision Staff Arrest – Full statement from World Vision. Doesn’t say a lot because they don’t yet know a lot. I’m sure there will be more comments as the situation develops.

8/5 – Reuters at Business Insider – Australia suspends World Vision funding over allegations its Gaza representative funneled millions to Hamas – The Australian government has provided about $4.4 million over the last three years to World Vision for use in helping people living in Gaza and West Bank. The aid has been suspended over the allegations.

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How do you keep one person from diverting funds and causing a front-page fiasco for your charity? World Vision illustration.

August 5, 2016, 5:35 pm
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How do you keep one person from creating a public relations fiasco or, even worse, damaging the reputation of your entire organization? How do you keep a manager from illegally diverting a huge amount of resources?

What controls and procedures do you have in place to prevent something like this in your organization?

Let’s start with a FBI agent who pled guilty to charges of passing sensitive and classified information to a Chinese government official and businesses in China.

8/1 – ABC News – FBI Employee Arrested for Allegedly Acting as Secret Chinese Agent – According to the story, we can drop the word ‘allegedly.’ This week he entered a guilty plea to one felony charge. The government claims he was gathering sensitive and classified material based on instructions from his handler.

He was born in China and was naturalized in 1985 at age 16.

So, the FBI with all its investigative powers and intentional counter-intelligence operations was not able to prevent this man from being an agent of the Chinese government.

So what chance does a nonprofit charity have of filtering out people who want to do bad stuff? That is something to consider as we grieve the following story.

This week the story broke that a manager of the Gaza office of World Vision allegedly diverted a lot of money to Hamas for use in terrorist activities. At this point the story consists of allegations, but allegations from the Israeli security service after a few weeks of interrogation are extremely serious.

8/4 – Hareetz – Top Official in Christian Aid Group Charged With Funneling Funds to Hamas – The security service, Shin Bet, arrested the director of the Gaza branch office on June 16. He was indicted Thursday.

Shin Bet accuses the manager of joining an armed wing of Hamas in 2004 and being sent to infiltrate a western aid organization a year later.

In 2005 he was hired by World Vision and in 2010 was promoted to director of the Gaza branch.

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Journalist returns call to scammer who claimed to be from the IRS. Entertainment and laughter follows.

December 11, 2015, 9:12 am
Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Most people hang up on robocalls from charities. If there is a real person, I ask them to go into their spiel and then set the phone down, letting the caller waste a minute or two of their time.

William P. Barrett, writing at New To Seattle, actually takes those calls. He then dissects the charity’s financial statements showing the minimal amount of charity taking place in some organizations.

To the repeat offenders he awards the title of “America’s Stupidest Charities.”

You probably know scammers have a new scheme of falsely claiming to be from the IRS. Their spiel is you’re just about to be arrested for failing to pay back taxes, the police are on the way to your home, but you can avoid going to jail today by settling up right now by sending money on a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

Mr. Barrett called back to the number provided in a robocall. The person answering spoke poor English and sounded like he was calling from a boiler room.

He describes the call in his post, Scammers invoking the IRS inundate Seattle.

How did that conversation go? Quite entertainingly.

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Here’s a new scam you may not have heard about: e-mail from your boss telling you to wire some money to a ministry partner right away

December 9, 2015, 8:26 am
Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Let’s say you are the controller in the finance office. Let’s say your boss sends you an email telling you to wire some money to a new organization in the field that he just met because they have the ability to do something great and they need the funds to seize the opportunity right now. Today. Oh, the amount is within budget and he gives you the routing information for the wire. Email is signed using your boss’ nickname and based on a quick glance, the e-mail address is legit.

You quickly send the wire, right?

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About that “invoice” to renew your fictitious business name for $150. It’s either a “misleading solicitation” or a scam. Take your pick.

March 6, 2015, 10:30 am

About a week ago I renewed the fictitious business name used for my publishing projects. Paid San Bernardino county $55. Only reason it took 20 minutes to prepare it is that the county revised the form since my last filing. Since I’m a cautious accountant, it was obviously necessary to read all the instructions just to make sure nothing changed.

Also received an invoice in the mail today that looks like it is from the Fictitious Business Name office reminding me the FBN is about to expire and the fee will be only $150.

Hmm. The form I just filed said the fee was $55.

If you look carefully, the outside envelope and “invoice” both contain one statement each saying this is not an official government request.

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