Haiti Earthquake and Scam emails

by: Zarex dela Cruz, CISSP, CISA on Thursday, January 21, 2010 9:28 AM

Haiti Earthquake Landslide

The recent earthquake disaster that struck Haiti is sometimes unbearable to watch. With an estimate of 80,000 death and rising or 200,000 according to Haitian government. The damages sum up to billion of dollars. It is indeed a disaster that melts your heart in pity.

More than 5 years ago, a colossal disaster hit Indonesia and other parts of the world with an earthquake in the Indian ocean that caused huge and deadly tsunamis in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Africa, and other countries. All of these sad stories easily spread out the Internet, including heart-touching pictures.

These stories always touch the heart of many. And this is exactly what bad guys take advantage of. In a previous post about Phishing, we’ve uncovered how it works. This is what these scammers is going to use again to exploit vulnerable people. So again, BEWARE of these scam emails asking for donations to help Haiti Earthquake victims. They can appear legitimate but always ensure that you do not click on any link they provide.

Example below is a capture from McAfee’s blog of what could be a similar scam email to lure to donating money to them. This one is from a French origin.

Haiti Scam email

Last week the United States FBI released an immediate warning and reminder to Internet users to be very diligent and apply critical eyes in responding to emails asking for donations of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. I’ve outlined below with their guidelines:

“Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the IC3 via www.ic3.gov.”

Protect yourself against scammers!

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