Ukraine warns of scammers targeting families of POWs

The scam callers also attempted to extract data on the captured soldiers from their families.

A Ukrainian navy sailor uses equipment on board an armoured gunboat during a short voyage near a base of the Ukrainian Naval Forces in the Azov Sea port of Berdyansk, Ukraine January 12, 2022 (photo credit: Anastasia Vlasova/Reuters)
A Ukrainian navy sailor uses equipment on board an armoured gunboat during a short voyage near a base of the Ukrainian Naval Forces in the Azov Sea port of Berdyansk, Ukraine January 12, 2022
(photo credit: Anastasia Vlasova/Reuters)

Scam callers have been targeting relatives of Ukrainian navy servicepeople fighting against Russia, asking them to donate money towards their family member's release from captivity, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Tuesday.

The callers, pretending to be representatives of Ukraine's Armed Forces Navy or public institutions, also attempted to extract data on the captured soldiers from their families, the general staff added.

Ukraine's Armed Forces stressed that it or any of its military branches are not collecting money for the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war taken by Russia, during president Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine which began February 24.

Last month, an imposter claiming to be Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal called British defense minister Ben Wallace, the defense minister said.

"Today an attempt was made by an imposter claiming to be Ukrainian PM to speak with me. He posed several misleading questions and after becoming suspicious I terminated the call," Wallace said on Twitter. "No amount of Russian disinformation, distortion and dirty tricks can distract from Russia’s human rights abuses and illegal invasion of Ukraine. A desperate attempt."

 Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (credit: FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/POOL VIA REUTERS) Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (credit: FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Shortly after Wallace's announcement, Ukraine's defense ministry released a statement in both Ukrainian and English warning against the danger of "those who seek to profit from human suffering" by posing as Ukrainian officials. 

"Such characters introduce themselves as advisors, assistants, heads of departments, and even present fake documents to prove their official positions," defense minister Oleksii Reznikov's Facebook statement continued. 

He urged governments worldwide to be vigilant and ensure that the people they are speaking to are really who they claim to be and to report any imposters to the authorities.