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MacKenzie Scott gave away billions. The scam artists followed.

Over the course of 2020, MacKenzie Scott announced gifts totaling nearly $6 billion.

April 26, 2021 / 01:22 PM IST
MacKenzie Scott's 2020 charitable giving totaled $5.8 billion, one of the biggest annual distributions by a private individual to working charities. According to the recent Forbes data, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is named the third richest women in the world in the year 2021 with a net worth of $54.9 billion. (Image: Forbes)

MacKenzie Scott's 2020 charitable giving totaled $5.8 billion, one of the biggest annual distributions by a private individual to working charities. According to the recent Forbes data, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is named the third richest women in the world in the year 2021 with a net worth of $54.9 billion. (Image: Forbes)

Danielle Churchill needed help. She was raising five children in Wollongong, on the Australian coast south of Sydney, and had to cover thousands of dollars in special therapy fees for her 10-year-old son, Lachlan, who has autism. She tried crowdfunding on the site GoFundMe, but raised a tiny fraction of what she had hoped for.

Late last year, she received the message that seemed to solve her financial problems. It was purportedly an email from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, a novelist best known as the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, saying that she was giving away half her fortune and that Churchill had qualified for a grant.

Churchill searched Google for Scott’s name and the word “scam.” Instead of warnings, she found numerous news articles describing how Scott’s representatives had emailed hundreds of nonprofit groups out of the blue with offers of monetary support.

“People were thinking they were scams, but then they came true,” Churchill, 34, recalled thinking.