(2 Minute Read) – Within hours of Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, online scam artists were hard at work creating fake social media posts to solicit “donations” to help civilian victims in Ukraine.
According to NBC News:
TikTok users are pretending to be in Ukraine, using doctored or dubbed footage of other places in an attempt to solicit followers and monetary donations.
One account, which called for donations through TikTok, featured a livestream of a line of houses in a residential area as the sounds of gunshots, sirens and people screaming for help could be heard in the background. But that account hours earlier had posted a different angle of the same street in which cars with U.K. license plates were visible.
Other videos posted to TikTok appear to be recycling old video and passing it off as coming from Ukraine. In one video viewed almost 20 million times on TikTok and posted about two hours after the first reports of shellings in Ukraine, a soldier is seen parachuting out of an airplane. “Bro is recording an invasion,” the top comment reads.
The video is from a training exercise, first posted to an Instagram account by a user with the same username on April 6, 2016. The user on TikTok was seen later on Tuesday livestreaming on his couch.
It can be difficult to spot fake online postings. During times of crisis, scammers often prey on your sense of humanity to try to trick you into donating money to a cause or family in need—when in reality, they’re pocketing your donation.
Before making any donations, be sure you fully vet the source and ensure money is going where you intend. The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit truth in journalism organization, offers some great media literacy tips to help people identify bogus posts, photos, and deep fake videos online.
If you want to make a donation to help civilians in Ukraine, do it through a trusted charity with a proven track record. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been on the ground for years, delivering urgent assistance — food, fuel for heating, medical supplies and support for housing — to those living close to the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, according to the American Red Cross website. Red Cross teams now in Ukraine will continue their work to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities with medicines and equipment, and support families with food and hygiene items.
You can donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help the people of Ukraine through the organization’s website: https://www.icrc.org/en/donate.