28 Dec 2017
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has received a growing number of inquiries from people in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the past few months about individuals contacting them on online dating platforms or social media, who claimed to be working with MSF at the front line asking for financial support for various reasons. We also receive inquiries about email or invoices allegedly from ask for delivery payments, baggage shipment or custom fees. MSF has already reported several cases to the police, and is asking everyone to watch out for these false claims and not to transfer money to any unknown person’s account. We are appealing to everyone who has encountered any of these tricks, please contact us immediately.
Since June 2017, MSF received at least 21 inquiries altogether from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is suspected that someone has committed fraud by claiming to be an MSF field worker. Six of these cases were reported from Hong Kong.
In these six cases, the inquirers or their friend met the suspected scammers on social media or matchmaking platforms, for instance Lovestruck, match.com, WeChat, LinkedIn and others. The scammers claimed that they were working with MSF in conflict zones (e.g. South Sudan or Syria) or other countries (e.g. Iran). Due to various reasons like a completion of contract, early discharge from mission or falling sick etc., the scammers asked for the inquirers’/their friends’ help to receive a piece of luggage or a parcel on their behalf; or for their money to pay for their extra luggage fees, luggage customs charges or a covering deposit to help pay for return travel from field projects. In some cases, the suspected scammers showed a flight itinerary with forged MSF letters and invoices to the inquirers/their friends. MSF has passed some of these cases to the Hong Kong police with the agreement of the people who contacted us.
MSF offices in Beijing and Taipei have also received inquiries about some people claiming to be MSF field workers saying that they were raising funds to establish an MSF foundation or to build a new hospital. In one such case, the scammer even showed the plan and blueprint of the “new hospital”.
MSF is quite certain that these kinds of requests from people claiming to be “MSF field workers” are false. They are abusing the public’s kindness and exploiting the name of MSF. These propositions should never be believed because;
- MSF never takes donations through individual field workers, whether medical or non-medical, nor would we use their private bank accounts. For more information on donations please see our website: msf-seasia.org/donationmethod http://msf-seasia.org/donationmethod;
- MSF field workers are all working on a voluntary basis in our field projects. If they need to return earlier due to personal reasons, they can apply to end their field assignment and they will not be charged for leaving the projects earlier than originally planned;
- MSF covers accommodation and transportation throughout their missions, including travel costs between their places of residence and project locations;
- MSF provides field workers with all of the supplies and equipment they need in field projects.
Therefore, MSF field workers would never need to ask anyone outside MSF’s management for help with finance or other resources during their missions.
MSF is asking everyone to watch out for approaches from anyone who claims to be MSF field workers on the internet. We want everyone to be vigilant; not to send out any financial support until you have checked with us through telephone (+852-2959-4229) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). And report to the police if suffering any loss.
Related content: Beware of Scamming from Fake “MSF Field Workers”