Watch Out For Tsunami Relief Email Scams

    January 9, 2005

The millions of dollars donated by individuals to relief efforts in Southeast Asia have brought criminals and scammers out of the woodwork, US government agencies and private anti-fraud groups warned last week, reported.

Internetworld quotes Jim Lanford, the co-editor of in an online alert, saying, “Within hours of the earthquake and tsunami, scams began appearing online and offline. We’re not surprised by these scams. The same thing happened right after 9/11, and after every major natural disaster since then.”

Ploys include e-mails purporting to include photos or video of the disaster and its aftermath; such attachments can, in fact, be worm and/or virus payloads, the FBI warned.

Among the ways scammers are using the disaster, said Finnish security firm F-Secure, is to twist the typical “Nigerian” banking scheme with fresh and topical details from the affected countries.

The best advice – don’t click on anything in an email. Instead, go directly to the website of one of the aid/relief organizations. Both the BBC and CNN, for example, have lists of such places on their news sites:

  • BBC News | Asian disaster: How to help
  • CNN | Aid groups accepting donations for victims
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