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Scammers Exploit Hurricane Katrina

by Brett M. Christensen

Scammers are using the Hurricane Katrina tragedy to steal money from unsuspecting Internet users. Just days after Katrina struck, phoney websites began to appear that ask for donations to help hurricane victims. Typically, the sites accept funds via online payment company, PayPal and promise to send any donations on to relief organizations. However, there is no way of verifying the destination of funds donated on these sites. In all probability, money donated on such sites will be kept by the site owners and will never make it to relief organizations. Some scam sites may attempt to mimic the websites of legitimate organizations such as the Red Cross.

Scammers are also using email to fraudulently solicit donations or entice recipients into clicking on a link to visit a bogus website. Legitimate relief organizations are highly unlikely to ask for donations via unsolicited emails.

Those wishing to make online donations to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts should only do so via the official websites of reputable relief organizations. Never follow a link in an unsolicited email that asks for donations. Do not donate funds on websites that promise to send the money to relief organizations on your behalf.

Other Hurricane Katrina related emails can lead to a malware infection. Messages promising news about Hurricane Katrina may entice recipients to follow a link to a bogus website that attempts to infect their computer with a malicious trojan.

Scammers are always quick to exploit disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. The 2004 Asian Tsunami was the subject of much fraudulent activity. Scammers also exploited the 2005 London bombing attack.
RED HERRING: Katrina Scams Move Online
U.S. officials warn against hurricane aid scams
Scammers hit Web in Katrina’s wake

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Brett Christensen