Eyes On The Hurricane Scam Sites

    September 26, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

By now you can see it coming, almost as soon as Hurricane Katrina made landfall, scam artists were setting up their online piggy banks to collect the pennies of the unwitting. Rita, not quite the shrew that Katrina was, will no doubt see Rita relief scams, and an international “call to arms,” has been launched to flog the offenders.

Within the week after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, 2500 Katrina-relief related domains were registered. Within two weeks, 4000 websites advertised collection services for the disaster, 60% of which came from outside the United States, making it very difficult to tell which sites were legitimate.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been working to root out the scammers and phishers who set up bogus websites, shutting down numerous sites on suspicion of fraud.

EBay and PayPal have joined the federal efforts, freezing even legitimate sites like SomethingAwful.com, according to E-Commerce Times.

When Katrina-related “ourtsumami2005.com” showed up on eBay listings with an opening bid of $15,000, the online auction site took quick action to have it removed. The site owner, one “John Casanova,” had promised to half the funds to the American Red Cross.

The FBI warns charitable web-surfers about “cyber-looting,” and suggests that surfers always type in the link to a charity directly, rather than following links from one page to the next.

Eweek.com reports that an “international call to arms'” notice was released via the MWP (Malicious Websites and Phishing) mailing list by Gadi Evron, CERT manager in Israel’s ministry of finance, to fend off the potential Hurrican Rita cons.

“Over the next few days, some of us are going to process information about sites that will probably be used for Rita scams,” Evron said. “Through MWP resources and ISP connections, we are going to make sure these sites are taken off-line as soon as we detect them.”