In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, numerous charities have been created to help the islands that have been hit hardest. However, many of those organizations have sprung up overnight, with no apparent track record of performing charitable deeds.
Paul Inniss, the head of compliance for the General Registry, said people need to take extra precautions in dealing with organizations they may not be familiar with.
“It appears many charities have been funded through [online crowdfunding], but I would personally be very hesitant to get involved because I have no way of verifying whether the person online will really use your money for the venture you want to support,” he said. “There has been reputable crowdfunding, but how does one really verify that the money is being put to good use?”
Mr. Inniss, who has also worked in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Financial Crime Unit, added that giving out personal information to unknown online entities can be dangerous.
“Especially in times like this, we’ve seen in the past an escalation in cybercrime. Because people use this as an opportunity to create what we call … phishing emails and fraudulent websites, where people click on them to give funds and end up giving away personal data and compromising themselves,” he said. “So especially at these times, where people want to give and contribute, be very careful of those links online and who you give … access to [your] information.”
The General Registry’s head of compliance recommends that donations be made through well-established organizations.
“If you’re going to use a charity organization, you should have some prior knowledge about its credibility. That is to say, have you ever dealt with the organization before? Do you know anybody who has dealt with the organization before? Do your homework, do your checks and balances to make sure the person getting your money has a reputation for being effective,” he said. “If I were going to get involved in a charitable organization – especially if we’re looking at some place like the BVI – I would reach out to one of the major charities.”
Cayman-registered nonprofit organizations should be safe channels through which to donate, given the more stringent regulations now in place through the Non-Profit Organisations Law, he said.
“[Cayman-registered] charitable ventures are required to keep financial records showing prudent financial management,” he said. “So there should be records, invoices, board-of-directors resolutions signing off on money being allocated towards particular ventures. Charities under the new law are required to have proper financial records.”