The Charity Commission has issued an alert to trustees, charity professionals and volunteers to be vigilant about the possibility of falling victim to a wave of online extortion or ‘ransom’ demands which it says are currently affecting UK businesses and are now targeting the charity sector
The regulator says it is making the warning based on reports made during the past week to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. It says that the advice is particularly relevant for those charities which operate overseas and/or deal with international partners in high risk zones.
According to the Charity Commission, there have been a number of online extortion demands from a group calling themselves ‘RepKiller Team’.
The group have sent emails demanding payment of between £300 - £500 in Bitcoins by a certain date and time. If their demand is not met, they have threatened to launch a cyber-attack against the organisation and damage its reputation by automating hundreds of negative reviews online.
The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.
Carl Mehta, head of investigations and enforcement operations at the commission, said: ‘Charities need to be aware of the imminent danger posed by this fraudulent group and to take appropriate steps to protect their charity’s assets and good reputation - both of which could be damaged if the ransom demands of the group are met.’
The Charity Commission advises any charity which has already received such a demand, or does so in future, not to meet the demand or pay the ransom. It says charities should make a report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk