Debunking hoaxes and exposing scams since 2003!

Hoax-Slayer Logo

Charles F. Feeney 'Grant Donation' Advance Fee Scam


Email purporting to be from millionaire philanthropist Charles Francis Feeney claims that the recipient has been awarded a grant of 1.9 million US dollars based on the random selection of his or her email address online.

Hand with money
© Ruslan Nassyrov

Brief Analysis

The message is a scam and it is not from Charles Feeney. The message is an attempt to trick people into sending money and personal information to cybercriminals. Charles Feeney is a real person and he really has given away millions of dollars, but this message has no connection with him whatsoever.


Subject: Grant Donation To you

My name is Charles Francis Feeney, a philanthropist and the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world. I believe strongly in ‘giving while living.’ I had one idea that never changed in my mind — that you should use your wealth to help people and I have decided to secretly give USD 1.9Million to randomly selected individuals worldwide. On receipt of this email, you should count yourself as the lucky individual. Your email address was chosen online while searching at random. Kindly get back to me at your earliest convenience, so I know your email address is valid.

Visit the web page to know more about me: or you can google me ( Charles F. Feeney).

Charles F. Feeney.

Detailed Analysis

According to this message, which purports to be from well-known millionaire philanthropist Charles Francis Feeney, the lucky recipient has been awarded a grant of 1.9 million US dollars. 

The message claims that the recipient was chosen to get this grant via the random selection of his or her email address during an Internet search. A link to an article about Feeney and his philanthropic work is included in the email.  The recipient is asked to reply to the message to show that his or her email address is valid.

Charles Francis Feeney is a real person and he has indeed given away millions of dollars anonymously over a number of years.  However, this email was not sent by Feeney and has no connection with him whatsoever.

In fact, the email is the opening gambit in a typical advance fee scam that tries to trick recipients into sending their money and personal information to Internet criminals. Those who fall for the trick and reply as instructed, will be told that, before receiving their grant money, they must pay certain fees in advance.

The criminals responsible for the scam will claim that these fees are required to cover legal, insurance and banking fees or a host of other entirely imaginary expenses. The criminals will claim that, for legal reasons, the fees must be paid before the grant is allocated and cannot be deducted from the grant money.

And, during the process of the scam, the criminals may also trick victims into sending a large amount of personal and financial information, ostensibly to prove their identities and allow the transfer of funds.

Of course, victims will never receive the promised grant, which never existed to begin with. Nor are they likely to get back any of the money that have already sent. The criminals may also use the harvested personal and financial information to steal the identities of their victims.

Advance fee scammers often pose as real companies or real people to make their claims seem plausible, at least to some, more wide-eyed, recipients. Often, the scammers will pretend to be people who have won large lotteries and have decided to give away parts of their fortune to others.

In this case, the scammers have used the unusual story of Charles Feeney as a cover. An article about Feeney on the Indiana University website notes:
Charles “Chuck” Feeney might be the most famous anonymous donor in history. Since 1982 Feeney has given away billions, and aside from a very small circle of advisors, no one knew. While the tradition of anonymous giving is not new, Feeney’s commitment to anonymity existed for many years until it became clear that too many people knew his identity—and his secret was out.
But Feeney isn’t only known as “the anonymous donor.” He is also known as the donor who decided to “spend down” his entire fortune by 2020. In a world where philanthropists agonize over their legacies and worry about how their children will (or won’t) honor their intent, Feeney went in the opposite direction. His entire fortune, now in a group of foundations called The Atlantic Philanthropies, will be spent down by 2020. Feeney is truly committed to “giving while living,” and his decision to end his requirement of anonymity stems from this value. By spending down, Feeney could influence others to give as much as they could, experience the joy of giving while they were alive, and use their presence as a positive, guiding force.
To some recipients, this story may seem to validate the claims in the scam message. But, while Feeney and his foundations have indeed given away millions of dollars, the recipients of these grants were not chosen at random based on the selection of their email address.

That claim is simply absurd. In fact, any message that makes such a claim is very likely to be a scam.

Piles of American Dollars - Charles Feeney Advance Fee Scam


Last updated: July 23, 2014
First published: November 5, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

Advance Fee Lottery Scams - International Lottery Scam Information
Microsoft World Lottery Scam
Advance Fee Scam - Facebook 2011 Sweepstakes Online Lottery
Criminals Use Names of Lottery Winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford in Advance Fee Scams
The Atlantic Philanthropies
Million Dollar List - The Anonymous Donor