McFarlane Latter Architects Reviews - McFarlane Latter Architects Scam or Legit

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Raymond –

Victim Location 06517

Type of a scam Fake Check/Money Order

My organization initially received a phone call requesting information on how to send a donation to the organization. The following day, a sizeable check ($38,850) arrived by overnight mail. The check was sent from a Madison Avenue, NY, address, sent registered mail, and drawn on a US bank – SunTrust. The memo line indicated that it was intended as a memorial gift in the name of a person somewhat familiar to staff at the organization, but not directly known by the organization.

The donor was not directly familiar to staff at my organization, but had an email address and website that checked out as legitimate. In past years, the organization has received other unsolicited gifts of this type, and occasionally in range of this amount. Those earlier gifts were legitimate – this one was not.

Upon receipt and initial acknowledgement of the check, the donor asked for confirmation of deposit. Staff at the organization confirmed deposit. The following day, the donor indicated that their accountant had made a grave error, and had overpaid the deposit, and requested the organization return the overpaid amount. Better yet, advised the donor, please forward the overpaid amount to a third party bank account.

Of course, the requested action above confirmed to staff that we were dealing with a scam (wherein the organization could have advanced available funds to cover over-payment of the donation before realizing that the donated funds would never clear for deposit). Staff began to get suspicious when they could not easily confirm donors relation with the organization and knew exactly what they were dealing with when the request for partial return of funds occurred.

Research indicates that several not-for-profits in the Richmond Virginia area were victimized by this same scam in December 2015 in the rush of year-end giving: There are several reports of this scam in VA.

The organization informed their bank of the fraudulent deposit, and the bank’s fraud office confirmed the scam. The bank advised reporting the incident to local police. Local police did not take a report due to no money being transferred or lost. Local police advised reporting the incident to the US Secret Service. Secret Service agents were interested in the report, particularly the use of an “In memory of” line, but did not take an official report. However, Wells Fargo, holders of the account where the organization was directed to send money, had their fraud office take a full report.

Cindy –

Victim Location 45211

Type of a scam Charity

I received an email on 9/2 from a Kenneth McFarlane from the UK inquiring about how to donate to our organization. When I replied with our online donation page, he responded that the wanted to mail us a donation. I gave him our address and on 9/12 received a check for $38,850. He emailed later that day saying, "Good day,

I had instructed my accountant to arrange to have the donation delivered to you today or so. He is meant to go on vacation this week so please do kindly advise once it is received and deposited so I’m certain he got this sorted out. My schedule is hectic this week but I’m hoping we can find a good time to discuss before the week runs out. We have just been newly awarded a hefty sum project which is really eating up my time right now." I then Googled Ken McFarlane because we had never heard of him before and found several articles (including one from BBB) on the donation scam, describing almost exactly our situation. What would you recommend we do with the check (which we DID NOT deposit) and how should we respond if Ken McFarlane tries to contact us again?

Andres –

Victim Location 44313

Type of a scam Charity

Email received from Ken McFarlane asking who to contact to donate to our agency. Google search revealed non-profits in Virginia were scammed when a significant donation was received and the non-profit was contacted to return a portion of the donation due to an error. Please see following website.

Thank you

*** ***

Executive Director

Alliance for Healthy Youth

Gary –

Victim Location 97211

Type of a scam Charity

I reported initial contact earlier today. I had already replied to sender thanking for interest in donating to my charity. I got this response back this afternoon.

From: Ken McFarlane [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Friday, September 02, 2016 3:29 PM

To: Mxxxx xxxx Subject: Re: donation

Hi xxxxx,

Thanks for the reply. I understand it is a long weekend ahead. I am currently not available to discuss today but sometime next week may work.

If you will please provide me information as to where we can send donations. I am committed to a yearly giving agender in a bid to give back and help others .

I will wait for the said and I hope you do have a lovely weekend ahead.

Warm Regards,

Ken McFarlane

3 Clifford Street, London, W1S 2LF

Tel 020 3514 3424

Fax 020 3514 3400

020 3514 3400

[email protected]

Report from earlier – Received the following email and discovered several reports of these names associated with charity fraud in other states. Looks like they’re trying Oregon charities now. (See and… "Greetings, I would like to donate to your organization. Will you please direct me to who to discuss about effectively contributing to your mission & projects. I’ll hope to read back from you guys soon. Warm regards, Ken McFarlane Director 

Alison –

Victim Location 30309

Type of a scam Charity

Our CFO received an email from "Ken McFarlane" asking who to speak with about making a donation. I googled it and learned that this is a scam that has been committed in other markets, (Richmond, Honolulu), where they send a check for $40,000, then state that the check was sent for the wrong amount and ask for $30,000 back. The orginal check, of course, is not real.

Whitney –

Victim Location 22203

Type of a scam Charity

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (501(c)(3) organization) received an email from Kenneth McFarlane of London, England, wishing to donate $39,850. He had the check sent from a PNC Bank in NJ, signed by Simon Douglas whom he said was his accountant. We were suspicious as this "donor" had never been on our radar screen (although frequently they are not). The website for an architectural firm in England looked "OK" but seemed a bit feeble for a successful architectural firm. We cashed the check, and were waiting for it to clear, when we got an email from him that his accountant had over paid by $10,000 which he had promised to someone for medical care for a critically ill child, and that he now had a problem. He did not ask us to give it back, just said he was trying to figure out what to do to make it right. During this time the check came back from the bank with a notice of "frozen account". This is the same scam that the of Central Virginia just reported.

Heidi –

Victim Location 20178

Type of a scam Charity

"Donor" London reaches out in generic email asking who to correspond regarding making a gift to charity. With encouragement, "donor" sends certified check from "Key Bank". The Cashiers’s check to my charity was for $10,000 more than pledged. He asked to be notified when gift arrived, which we did. He reached out to us saying that the additional amount was a mistake, and that sum had been pledged to a family that needed the funding right away: He requested that the sum be sent to family ASAP, otherwise, he would cancel the gift altogether.

Paula –

Victim Location 22209

Type of a scam Charity

I work for the Spina Bifida Association. At the end of December, we were contacted by e-mail from a man claiming to be Ken McFarlane, architect from McFarlane Latter in the UK. He indicated he wanted to make a contribution and asked how to do that. A week later we were contacted again and asked if the check had reached us. The check arrived shortly thereafter and we deposited it. It arrived via priority mail with no accompanying documentation. We deposited the check and I sent an e-mail back asking whether the check was a corporate or personal donation. A few days later we received an e-mail stating that $9,850 of the $39,850 wasn’t supposed to be sent to us and that it was supposed to go to a family whose child was on dialysis. Ken requested that we wire the money. Our Accounting Office wouldn’t wire it, so we told him we’d cut a check. I waited to hear back from him on where to mail the check. We started to feel like this was fishy and held onto the check for awhile before mailing it to the wire address. Then our bank notified us that the cashier’s check was cancelled. Luckily, we were also able to cancel our check. I am sure there were fees involved on our end, but luckily this scammer didn’t get a large sum of money from our charity. I reached out to the architect firm in the UK and they informed us that it was a scam. BBB of Central Virginia has issued a notice that more than 15 charities have been targeted. Please add us to the list! And we’re located in Arlington, VA right outside of DC. I have copies of all e-mails back and forth.


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