Wise Giving Wednesday: Ransomware Demands Acts of Charity

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calendar icon Jun 01, 2022


Most everyone has heard about ransomware attacks where a scammer uses encryption software to lock computers and data and then demand payment via cryptocurrency or other means before they release the data. Such attacks can happen in a number of ways (for example, clicking on a link in a fraudulent email) and then spread to other computers on the same network.  Unfortunately, a new version of this swindle has emerged, this time with a charitable theme. Various cybersecurity services and news sources are reporting something being called “Goodwill Ransomware.” In this circumstance, the ransomware victim is being told their data will be locked until three acts of charity are completed: (1) provide new clothes to needy people, (2) treat five poor children with a meal at specified fast food restaurants, and (3) pay for someone who can’t afford needed medical assistance. For all three acts, the victim is asked to document and record photos and videos and place them on social media.

While no victims of this ransomware approach have been reported in media accounts, it is extremely sad and offensive that anyone would tarnish philanthropy by holding personal data hostage to complete specified tasks. BBB Wise Giving Alliance warns that people should still be on the lookout and not succumb to such ransomware demands to unlock their data. It is also inappropriate to encourage strangers to approach children or to publish photos or videos of people receiving charitable assistance without their expressed permission.

BBB offers various tips to help prevent ransomware attacks. Among other things, individuals should make sure that they are periodically updating their software systems on their laptops and other computers, not clicking on links from unfamiliar sources, and conducting regular system backups. Also, the FBI has provided tips on ransomware and encourages victims to not pay a ransom and to report such acts to their Internet Crime Complaint Center also known as IC3.

Video of the Week

In this episode of our Building Trust Series, BBB Wise Giving Alliance interviews Jeanne Dillner, CEO of SIGN Fracture Care International (a BBB Accredited Charity). This organization works to build orthopedic capacity in developing countries by providing orthopedic training and implants.

Heart of Giving Podcast

In this week’s Heart of Giving Podcast, BBB Wise Giving Alliance interviews Betsy Peterson and Olivia Henry Harris from the Council of Michigan Foundations. They discuss their programs aimed at educating younger people on the power of giving and teaching them to be grantmakers.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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