By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — THE Catholic Church’s social arm has issued a warning to the public to be careful when giving donations to so-called church groups that claim they are supposedly helping victims of recent typhoons like those in Marikina City and outlying provinces.
In an official statement, Caritas Philippines disclosed that fake typhoon donation campaigns are becoming more and more prevalent recently, given the fact that millions of pesos in donations are being generated by several charity and cause-oriented groups to give assistance to victims of natural calamities and even the coronavirus pandemic.
Caritas noted in the past week of fraudulent groups who are making rounds on social media and asking churchgoers to deposit money in spurious bank accounts.
“Beware of fake donation drives. Let us help our fellow Filipinos and not take advantage of the calamities. Keep spreading the charity virus . . . but let us not fool others for selfish interests,” Caritas’ executive director Father Anton Pascual enthused.
Pascual revealed that Caritas had received reports that there were fake online donation drives on social media showing pictures of typhoon evacuees. Others showed Facebook accounts belonging to bogus foundations with personal bank accounts.
Even the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) have issued a similar warning, saying that there are unscrupulous individuals and organizations who are taking advantage of the situation.
“We are issuing this warning to all our fellow Filipinos who wish to help the victims of the recent calamities. Please be careful and be cautious before giving any cash donation or aid. There are individuals who are taking advantage of this situation by fooling the public to believe they were legitimate charities,” the council said.
Former Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan has posted on social media screenshots of a fake Facebook account supposedly belonging to him with messages asking for donations from churchgoers.
“We are working on relief operations for our brethren in Cagayan (province) who are victims of the recent typhoon (Ulysses) . . . Maybe we can ask from you some more sacks of rice and canned goods. Hoping to hear from you the soonest. God bless you always,” the appeal on the fake account said, according to Villegas.
Another purported message from Archbishop Villegas was posted with bank details of a certain Monsignor Nicko San Buenaventura.
“Regards to everyone and see you soonest! Please advise once deposited so I can forward you an official receipt,” it said. (AI/MTVN)