One of my rare disease foundation friends was sent an email today purporting to offer the opportunity to apply for funding from “The Robertson Foundation”. It appears to be a sophisticated scam so BEWARE!!
This is what they sent in the email:
Thank you for your reply to our notification email. You have been selected for The Robertson Foundation grant which aspires to utilize a proactive, disciplined grant-making approach to measurably affect significant social change in the principal areas of education, the environment, medical research and religion & spirituality.
Please note that the amount that you will be entitled to has not been decided as at the time of sending you this email as we need to complete our evaluation and screening process. On completion, you will be entitled to a minimum of $350,000 USD (Three Hundred And Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) which you will have to use to develop any one of the aforementioned areas of interest in your region.
The Robertson Foundation was established by Julian and Josie Robertson and their family in 1996. The Foundation’s program staff has grown over time and it continues to grow as the foundation’s grant-making capacity expands.
We have provided support for an array of charitable entities through individual giving, as well as through other affiliated foundations – the Tiger Foundation and the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation.
We are selecting trust worthy and goal oriented individuals to help us in our course. Our screening method is thorough and selected individuals who do not meet these standards will not benefit from the grant as we do not want a situation where beneficiaries will not use their grants for developmental purposes.
Please note that this is not some lottery or randomly selected offer as grants will be given out based on merit and the level of impact the project embarked upon will have on the host region.
We have received your personal information and you are advised to write us a proposal and outline the project you intend to embark upon if you are selected as one of our beneficiaries. Also state the benefits of your project to the region in which you intend to embark it upon Reference from public office holders and photos of a project at hand or an uncompleted project will also be an added advantage as our panel of judges will use that when evaluating selected individuals for the Robertson Foundation grant. Your project outline should be sent in a pdf or ms word format
For more information, you can read up on our aims and objectives at: http://www.robertsonfoundation.org/index.html
We await your proposal.
United Kingdom Office
Tel / Fax (+44)2036740958
©Robertson Foundation 2013.
A quick search of the web finds the following very useful blog from Lin Edwards. I would suggest anyone (rare disease groups and others) that get an email from this group to delete it, as it is fake.
I am also concerned that researchers in academia may also be open to such scams as funding becomes increasingly short, will they too in desperation be open to such increasingly sophisticated scams. For me the lack of depth on “the Robertson Foundation” website was a bit of a give away, but admittedly if you look quickly it may pass your ususal “filters for an internet scam”. For example the contact address is in the UK, but they are funding research etc in the USA..very fishy.
So the old addage, “If it looks to good to be true, it likely is too good to be true” definitely holds in this case.