Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation name being used in postal and digital scams; How to report fraudulent activity

August 25, 2023

Individuals have been fraudulently posing in traditional postal mail, e-mails, in text messages and on social media, as “representatives” of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. These individuals are using the Foundation’s name without authorization and have contacted people to suggest that funds may be forthcoming if personal identification and financial information is provided.

The latest scam we have been notified about involves a message about a church distributing funds on our behalf. These messages are fraudulent and are an illegal misrepresentation of the Foundation and the grantmaking work we do.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and its employees do not:

  • Sponsor lotteries of any kind.
  • Solicit donations of any kind
  • Ask for personal information, such as your Social Security number or an online account password.
  • Approach individuals offering grant opportunities or scholarships.
  • Require/request grantees to pay insurance, deposits, or delivery and administrative fees for grant funds.
  • Request funds through email, text, phone or social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Instant Messenger.
  • Offer investment opportunities.
  • Request conference fees or fees to apply for jobs.
  • Ask that you to click a link to resolve a problem, win a prize or access a service.

If you receive any form of communication that appears to be from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation requesting any type of payment or personal and/or financial information, or if you receive a communication seemingly from the Foundation that you feel is suspicious, please disregard that communication. We would appreciate your reporting any fraudulent communications to us at Info@ralphcwilsonjrfoundation.org or by phone at (313) 885-1895. Please be sure to share the fraudulent communications and any screen shots to us as well.

If you suspect you have received a fraudulent text message (known as “smishing”), please take the following steps:

  • Contact the company or organization that supposedly sent the text, using a phone number or website you know to be legitimate, if you think it might concern a genuine problem.
  • Forward spam and scam texts to 7726 (SPAM), the spam reporting service run by the mobile industry. This sends the text to your carrier so it can investigate. Cybersecurity company Norton has a guide to the process.
  • Consider using tools that filter or block unwanted messages or unknown senders:
    • Your mobile device may have built-in spam protection. Check the settings on its messaging app.
    • Most major wireless carriers offer call-blocking services.
    • Some call-blocking apps also filter out junk texts.
  • Don’t provide personal or financial data in response to an unsolicited text or at a website the message links to.
  • Don’t click on links in suspicious texts. They could install malware on your device or take you to a site that does the same.
  • Don’t reply, even if the message says you can “text STOP” to avoid more messages. That tells the scammer or spammer your number is active and can be sold to other bad actors.
  • Don’t assume a text is legitimate because it comes from a familiar phone number or area code. Spammers use caller ID spoofing to make it appear the text is from a trusted or local source.

Furthermore, you can also report these scams and fraudulent communications to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov)  or the FBI (www.ic3.gov/complaint).  The website of CTIA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association that represents the U.S. wireless industry, has lists of apps for Android and Apple devices that block robocalls and spam texts.

Additionally, if a check or any other documents were mailed (using United States Postal Service mail), you can file a postal fraud complaint here: https://ehome.uspis.gov/fcsexternal/default.aspx. Learn more about postal fraud here: https://www.uspis.gov/report.