Haiti Scammers Alert: FBI Warns of Haiti Relief Scams

The recent earth quake in Haiti has not on stunned the world but also believers have started praying in order to have safe 2012. The victims have no shelter and are facing severe food shortages. Till the time nations around the world are sending in help, FBI warns of cyber criminals who will try to take advantage of the situation and may start sending in spam and scam emails or set up fake website in order to collect donations for Haiti relief work. Although one must make sure before sending in donations to these sites about the validity of the site owner but still there will be some who will fall victim to it in all their naiveness and good faith to help those in need.

Scammers emerge as predictably as earthquake aftershocks following natural disasters, making it imperative for consumers to be wary of unsolicited appeals to aid victims in Haiti.

The FBI and security experts warned on Thursday of the likelihood of scams as requests for donations start pouring in via e-mail, text message, telephone and Twitter.

Their key advice: Look carefully before you give money or personal information, and contribute to a known group.

Evidence of potential fraud already has surfaced.

More than 400 Internet addresses related to Haiti have been registered since Monday's devastating quake, Internet security expert Joel Esler said. The names reference Haiti and words such as "earthquake," "help," "aid," "victims" and "survivors."

Many of the Web addresses will likely prove legitimate and redirect to proven charity sites, said Esler, of the Bethesda, Md.-based SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, which tracks viruses and other Internet problems. But many more will be bogus and associated with Web sites that host malicious software, spyware or other hazardous content, based on similar flurries of activity after Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and other disasters.

A lot of these Web sites feature a "donate" button but either the money will never go to the relief fund or they will just harvest your credit card number for use later, Esler said.

Those who want to send money or assistance should contribute to organizations they are familiar with and should be careful not to respond to unsolicited e-mails, according to the FBI. One such e-mail seeking help Thursday purported to be from a lawyer in Port-au-Prince whose entire family had died and who was given just days to live himself. He asked for assistance — and cash — for distributing his family fortune.

Not all bogus solicitations will be so obvious, or arrive marked as spam.

Source: Abc News

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