Nigerian scammers now exploiting former wife of Jeff Bezo’s COVID-19 relief initiative

There is at least one gang of scammers with a dummy website they use to execute the scheme and investigators have discovered it was registered by a Nigerian web hosting company.

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Online fraudsters are now exploiting the recent philanthropic initiative of MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, to help people deal with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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MacKenzie Scott

There is at least one gang of scammers with a dummy website they use to execute the scheme and investigators have discovered it was registered by a Nigerian web hosting company.

As of April 17, 2021, Scott has a net worth of US$61.4 billion, making her the third-wealthiest woman in the world, and the 21st-wealthiest individual overall. She is a signatory to the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give at least half of her wealth to charity.

She acquired Amazon stakes valued at $58 billion as a part of alimony settlement with Mr Bezos. Scott has since then, pledged to give out majority of the wealth to charity, dishing out nearly $6 billion in 2020 alone.

However, she chose to decentralise the movement, by not setting up any foundations, headquarters, or public website. There was no known way to reach her representatives either. Rather, what she did was to enlist a team of advisors to identify organisations that are helping people cope with the impacts of the pandemic.

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Scott and Bezos married in 1993 and divorced in 2019

Scott has been praised for her pledge and model of operating, as it helps move money faster to those who need it.

“The pandemic has amplified an imperative in getting money out the door as fast as possible,” Benjamin Soskis, senior research associate at the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, told AFP.

“She has emphasized giving money and getting out of the way,” he continued.

“Philanthropists often see themselves as part of the process, with multiple checks and evaluations and metrics which can be really burdensome.”

In 2006, Scott won the American Book Award for her 2005 debut novel, The Testing of Luther Albright. Her second novel, Traps, was published in 2013. Scott has been executive director of Bystander Revolution since she founded it in 2014, and was named one of TIME Magazine‘s100 Most Influential People of 2020.

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