At the end of February, Russian troops invaded Ukraine. The images of the war that have been circulating since then have made many people in Germany want to help Ukraine with donations. Anyone looking around for aid projects may have come across the website of an alleged "Military Foundation of the President of Ukraine". It was promised there that anyone who contributed with donations could benefit financially.
Allegation: The Ukrainian President operates a foundation that promises profits to donors.
The ambassador of Ukraine in Germany, Andriy Melnyk, describes the alleged foundation as a "fake". He appealed to the Germans: "Please stay alert and don't fall into this Russian trap." The Kremlin's cynicism of misleading people has reached a new level, Melnyk explained at the request of the German Press Agency. The ambassador calls on the police authorities and the Federal Criminal Police Office to investigate this "particularly malicious case of fraud quickly and to call the perpetrators to account".
As early as August 11, 2022, the Ukrainian military intelligence service warned of an "information campaign to discredit the President of Ukraine". A statement said a "fake platform of the so-called 'Zelensky Foundation' will be created and published" aimed at foreign citizens and institutions. Not only Germany is affected by the "fake account". According to the Ukrainian secret service, the Russian government is behind it.
On closer inspection, the online presence of the "Zelensky Foundation", which can no longer be accessed, revealed several indications that speak in favor of a forgery. On the otherwise German-language website, the English spelling Zelenskyy was used for the name of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj - but the last letter was omitted.
It was also noticeable that the supposed "Zelensky Foundation" aggressively asked for the personal data of the supporters. Those who wanted to take part should provide their name, email address, telephone number and Telegram account. The sentence was found: "We will never pass your e-mail on to third parties." However, what ultimately happens to the data remains unclear.
In the case of investments, a profit was promised. A promotional video on the site not only promised certificates for the donations, but also profits: Anyone who donates 20 euros and convinces three other people to do the same will receive 30 euros. With 100 euros you get back 200 euros according to the same system, it said.
"t-online.de" was the first to report on this investment opportunity, which is reminiscent of chain letters and so-called "snowball systems". It was not yet possible to pay on the website, but there was a countdown under the "Project Start" heading that was supposed to end on September 30, 2022.
While the website for the alleged "Zelensky Foundation" and the associated profiles in social networks have only been online for a few days, Ukraine launched a state donation platform at the beginning of May. Donations can be made separately for the army, humanitarian purposes or post-war reconstruction via United24.