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Don't be scammed by false Tsunami Relief Efforts

A disaster such as the recent Tsunami in Asia often brings out the best in people. Unfortunately it also brings out the worst - in the form of con artists and other thieves who prey upon kind people who want to help the victims.

According to the FBI, several scams are out there. Why should we be surprised? Criminals are using email and websites to siphon charitable contributions for tsunami victims into their own pockets.

What kind of schemes?

1. False websites have been established that pretend to be legitimate relief organizations asking for donations-one of which contains an imbedded Trojan exploit that can infect your computer with a virus if accessed.

2. Unsolicited incoming emails (SPAM) that offer, for a fee, to locate loved ones who may have been a disaster victim.

3. Unsolicited emails requesting that money be deposited in overseas banks to support the tsunami relief effort.

4. Unsolicited emails which seek personal or financial information in an effort to retrieve large amounts of inheritance funds tied up in relation to the tsunami disaster.

If you're considering on-line options for providing funding to this relief effort:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (SPAM) incoming emails.
  • Be skeptical of individuals claiming to be surviving victims or foreign government officials asking for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts
  • To ensure that contributions to U.S. based non-profit organizations are used for intended purposes, go directly to recognized charities and aid organizations websites, as opposed to following a link to another site.
  • Try to verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations (e.g., use Internet-based resources to help confirm the existence of the organization and its non-profit status).
  • Be leery of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
Several variations of this scam are currently in circulation. Anyone who has received an email referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the FBI or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Besides acknowledged and recognized disaster agencies such as the American Red Cross, you may want to look at USA Freedom Corps for a lengthy list of relief agencies that are helping the victims.

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