Georgia investigating fake checks sent to charities

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Georgia Secretary of State office has opened an investigation looking into a fake check scam that has been targeting charities in the state.

One charity reported receiving an offer for a $30,000 donation out of the blue. But since the offer seemed too good to be true, it declined.

The scammer went by the name “Ken McFarlane,” and said he was part of an architecture firm in London, England. The charity saw that the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance issued an alert after receiving complaints that a “Ken McFarlane” or a “Kenneth McFarlane,” had made similar offers to 18 charitable groups in the Richmond, Virginia, area.

"This organization did the right thing by checking into an unknown donor offering to make a large, unsolicited donation,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said. “I want all charitable organizations to be on the alert since there is a chance other groups in our state may receive or have already received similar offers.”

According to the BBB, three charitable groups deposited a total of $39,850 in checks sent by the scammer. “McFarlane” then contacted the charities and asked for some of the money back due to a mistake being made. None of the charities returned any of the money but when the checks were found to be fraudulent, the charities had to pay a bank fee for depositing the fraudulent checks.

“If any charity is concerned that they might have fallen victim to this scam, I ask them to contact our office immediately,” said Kemp. “I do not want any Georgia charity to have to spend its financial resources on anything except to carry out its self-designated mission.”

Anyone wishing to file complaint on any possible scam or any other questionable charity can fill out an online complaint form or call the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office at 404-656-2881 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.