www.infotoday.com March 2010
but they may lack the infrastructure
Faux Appeals Emerge for Haiti Aid to provide assistance. And be wary
of charities with names that sound
like familiar or nationally known
by PHILLIP BRITT | organizations. Some phony charities
use names that sound or look
he aftershocks following Haiti’s identical or very similar to those of
devastating earthquake hadn’t respected, legitimate organizations.
even leveled off before scammers The name is often a single incorrect
were online trying to take advantage of the letter off, or the web address has
worst natural disaster in several years. .com at the end instead of .org, the
The FBI issued a warning a day after extension that most charities use.
the earthquake. The Federal Trade Com-
mission (FTC), the FBI, and several legit- • Be cautious of emails that claim to
imate charities also posted warnings about show pictures of the disaster areas
the scams on their respective websites. in attached files because the files
Even so, some well-meaning people may contain viruses. Only open
still fell victim to the scams. How many attachments from known senders.
people were victimized and how much
money was lost will never be known be- • Don’t donate to someone who
cause there’s no way to trace many of the contacts you suddenly via an
scams. Plus, the people who were duped unsolicited email, phone call, or
are often too embarrassed to admit it, ac- text message. It’s better to give
cording to Tom Kelchner, research center through a website or phone number
manager of Sunbelt Software, based in that you know is a legitimate one.
Some people were duped by legiti- • Do not give out personal or financial
mate-sounding organizations or heart- information, including your Social
tugging pleas. Fraudsters relied on the Security number or credit card and
concept of “friendly spam,” using the bank account numbers, to anyone
event the entire world knows about to who solicits a contribution from you.
convince people to “donate” money di-
rectly or to provide critical personal and • Check out any charities before you
account information, says Catalin Cosoi, donate. Contact the Better Business
senior researcher for BitDefender in Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving
Bucharest, Romania. Alliance at www.give.org.
• Don’t give or send cash. For security
Popular Scams computer.