Most comon scams of NGOs, Charities and NPOs in Cambodia

There are several ways of making big money for fishy Organisations in Cambodia. Here we want to explain some of them.

THE SHOPPING SCAM.
Donors who want to be sure their investments in projects are used the way they wish oftno 500en want to buy supplies like water filters, rice, cloths, shoes, fruit and so on. Many organisations will give them a “helping hand” and have them taken to one or several shops to buy these supplies. BUT careful, often these shops have “contracts” with these Organisations, guaranteeing cash back-flows to the Organizers or helpers. We even know cases, were clothes, shoes and water filters were “returned” to the shops after the donor left…..for half price or less. So what can one do about this? TAKE TIME! Ask some people not involved for wholesalers addresses close. If you buy clothes , make sure they are distributed and WORN by the clients you buy them for. TAKE TIME to look at prices at different locations or even do some price research in the internet. Before you leave ask another volunteer to have an eye on the things you bought and stay in contact by mail. Remember even rice in standard packs is easy to “trade”. Most wanted and very expensive is baby food. To avoid selling these, you can mark them with spray paint on the label or black markers.

THE BUILDING SCAM
Charities are not allowed to own land in Cambodia. Nearly EVERY charity is claiming to want to improve the live of their clients by buying land(not need to pay rent) and building a better and bigger house for their clients and therefore donors are looked for. . So far so good. The problem is, that the land needs an owner. Who will that be? In most cases the head of the Charity.
Even declared land of this Organisation , in most cases it is NOT. It will be privately owned by the person who runs the story. Often this land purchase is financed by several different donors who will not know about each others donations. A great way to make BIG MONEY! That`s the trick! We know cases were 5 donors paid for the same land without knowing each other. In the times of electronic payments and internet no problem.
Better rent the land long term(even in YOUR name!) and have a Khmer FRIEND look up the papers. Still. There is nearly NO WAY to find out who is who. That is why APACHE says: NO open clear BOOKKEEPING, NO MONEY!
Once the land is bought, more donors are needed to finance the building. A great opportunity to make more money! Which donor will know the cost of materials and building labour? Right! Nobody! We have seen unbelievable Estimates. 10 x and more of local building cost. So..if you want to finance such a project, BE THERE and do some “running around” to compare prices. Get access to the mail traffic, accounts and books of the organisation. Take you time, remember YOU are paying!
Ask locals not involved for the prices of equal buildings, not telling them what you want to do. Use your intuition. Bad feelings are bad feelings. Do not ignore them. If you do not feel comfortable with what is happening or offered. LEAVE IT!
Do not feel responsible nor let anyone put pressure on you. Always remember there are other organisations and other projects everywhere in Cambodia to choose from. It is easy to “throw away” funds useless in Cambodia. Some transparent organisations are approved by apache-group. You will find them here under “recommended organisations”. But there are many other doing a good job. Time and a lot of information is the key to a successful donation.

DONATION BOX SCAM
This is very common all over the country. Nearly every place were tourists and travellers meet( hotels, bars, guest-houses, restaurants) will have a donation box sitting somewhere asking to put your change in it for a “good cause”. Sometimes these boxes are used as a”tipbox” for the staff. Apaches research shows, that some of the organisations who spread these boxes DO NOT EVEN EXIST! Others run fishy micro operations or do not even know , that there are donation boxes all over the country in their name out there(at least they pretended so). Some of the owners of the Bars , Restaurants and Hotels couldn’t answer any questions about these organisations or were directly involved with their operations. Beeing pressures our agents were threatened more than one time asking questions. Apache came to the conclusion, that DONATION BOXES should be a “no go” for any donor for the mentioned reasons. DO NEVER PUT MONEY IN DONATION BOXES IN CAMBODIA! The chance, that the money is used what it is supposed to be used for is minimal.

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