Cryptocurrency comes useful in Turkey-Syria earthquake charity efforts

Other than for scams and frauds, cryptocurrency has its uses in the world of charity too. Crypto payments are fast – millions can be transferred from one part of the world to another without too many people in the know. Setting an account is easy, and there are no intermediaries. The usefulness of digital currencies has been seen in the case of Ukraine relief efforts, and the latest case in point is the Turkey-Syria earthquake relief funds.

The first week of February shocked parts of the Middle East with a major earthquake. A major hurdle for financing relief efforts was the political turmoil and sanctioned status of Syria.

A Chainalysis reports shares how crypto channels eased and simplified ways to send money to help with relief efforts. Says the report: “By March 28, 2022 — a little more than a month after the war began — crypto users had already donated over $56 million worth of cryptocurrency to addresses the Ukrainian government had provided, along with donations to charitable organizations accepting digital currency. Crypto has the same potential to provide fast relief for victims in Turkey and Syria.”

As per the report, around $5.9 million in donations were in the form of cryptocurrencies. Some more donations, over $9 million, came from well-known crypto exchanges, including direct airdrops to affected people.

As expected, scammers too have infiltrated the charity channels, promoting their crypto addresses to receive donations. Chainalysis identified 18 scam addresses related to the Turkey-Syria earthquake, and says these addresses weren’t too successful, receiving a little over $500.

The OFAC maintains a list of banned organizations that use charity as a guise to receive money. The FTC has shared guidance on protecting against fraudsters masquerading as charity. Tips include first doing research on the charity or person, and using relevant search terms to track past reviews or complaints. The wallet address should also be searched online to confirm if it is authentically owned by the entity.

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