Sham charities established to take advantage of generous donors seeking to help victims of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu have come to the attention of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). The ACNC have received reports of scammers seeking donations via social media, in Australian shopping centres and going door-to-door  falsely claiming to be connected with reputable Australian charities. Some scammers have even created donation apps.

If prosecuted for this conduct, the scammers could be liable for penalties under Australian Consumer Law for misleading or deceptive conduct.

Donors should ensure that they only give to legitimate charities by checking whether a charity is registered with the ACNC. You can search the ACNC register by clicking here.

Further, you can report scams by contacting any of the following bodies:

  1. ACNC
    The ACNC handle complaints about potential breaches of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth).
     
  2. SCAMwatch
    SCAMwatch is an initiative run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). You can report scams by filling in an online form on the SCAMWatch website or by telephoning the ACCC on 1300 795 995.
     
  3.  Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
    You can also report scams to CAV by filling in an online form on the Consumer Affairs website or telephoning 1300 55 81 81.

For more information please contact:

Melanie Twomey
Senior Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5225 5238
E: mtwomey@harwoodandrews.com.au

Ashleigh Wall
Senior Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8559
E: awall@harwoodandrews.com.au