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If you donate to help Ukraine, make sure charity explains how your money or items are getting there

Russia Ukraine War
Posted at 5:29 AM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 16:45:30-05

MILWAUKEE — When you see Ukrainians fleeing their country with barely any belongings, you may start searching for charities where you can donate money, food, or other necessities. The Better Business Bureau wants you to pay close attention to who you are helping.

"Be really aware that they'll make just a slight change in the name and you might not even catch it," said Lisa Schiller with the Wisconsin BBB.

Schiller with the BBB says criminals tend to use the turmoil to con people out of their hard-earned money, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict is no exception.

"The other thing that you might see are claims that 100% of your donations are going straight to the Ukrainian people. That is probably a red flag because nothing is ever 100%," Schiller said.

APTOPIX Poland Russia Ukraine War
Hundreds of beds are placed inside a sports hall to accommodate Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian invasion at the border crossing town of Medyka, Poland, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. All day long, as trains and buses bring people fleeing Ukraine to the safety of Polish border towns, they carry not just Ukrainian fleeing a homeland under attack but large numbers of other citizens who had made Ukraine their home and whose fates too are now uncertain. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Even though the Better Business Bureau hasn't received specific complaints about charity schemes involving Ukraine and Russia, it doesn't mean they're not happening.

"I think a lot of times people don't know to report things, whether they lost money or they think it's suspicious. They can certainly let us know," Schiller said.

She says if you want to donate money, ask the charity if they can actually get to Ukraine. If you're donating food or other items, ask how they plan on getting those products there.

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War
Sick children and women with their newborn babies stay in a basement used as a bomb shelter at the Okhmadet children's hospital in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1. 2022. Russian strikes pounded the central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city and other civilian targets, and a 40-mile convoy of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Also, she suggests avoiding crowdfunding sites where the donation goes to a person and not a charity.

Bottom line, do your research. If you don't know where to start, visit BBB's give.org or a website called charity navigator.

Both are designed to protect you from charity scams.

"We want to share that information so that others are not donating to a charity that might be fake," said Schiller.

Click here to see the list of charities assisting those in need in the Ukraine-Russia conflict which the BBB has determined are reputable.

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