How Scammers Made Use of MacKenzie Scott's Largesse

She gave billions directly to foundations, and scammers took advantage of that
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2021 4:10 PM CDT
How Scammers Made Use of MacKenzie Scott's Largesse
In this March 4, 2018, file photo, then-MacKenzie Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – "What a gift she’s given them," professor Marti DeLiema tells the New York Times of MacKenzie Scott and the almost $6 billion she gave away last year. But the "them" DeLiema is referring to isn't the hundreds of nonprofits who were surprised to get an email letting them know Scott was giving them significant sums of money—he's talking about scammers. The Times reports the unusual approach Jeff Bezos' ex-wife has taken to giving—she has "no large, established foundation, headquarters, public website or indeed any way to reach her or her representatives," it writes—has been a boon for scammers. The Times illustrates the point using the case of an Australian woman who fell victim to one such scam.

After the GoFundMe campaign Danielle Churchill started to raise money for her autistic son's therapy turned out to be a flop, the 34-year-old got an email in late 2020 that said she was eligible for a $250,000 grant from Scott. Churchill tried to vet the offer, even searching Google for Scott's name and the word "scam." The results were news articles that described how groups had been surprised by gifts from Scott in a similar manner. She thought it was above-board, so she went through the steps she was told by the MacKenzie Scott Foundation that she needed to take to access the online account with Investors Bank and Trust Company. Except, of course, it was all fake—the foundation, the associated Facebook pages, and even the idea that Scott has given directly to individuals (she hasn't). Churchill ended up transferring about $7,900 she borrowed from relatives to the scammers. (Read the full story for more on Churchill's experience.)

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