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ID theft

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Scammers already taking advantage of Japan disaster

Identity thieves, scammers and fraudsters think nothing of exploiting and profiting from human misery. The disaster in Japan, which has stunned the world in the past few days, is no different.

An e-mail is currently making the rounds which appears to be from the British Red Cross. The subject line reads: "Japan Tsunami Appeal/British Red Cross." The correspondence appears to be from a legitimate Red Cross e-mail address.

The e-mail is a letter which contains information about the disaster and relief efforts already in progress, and it states that the Japanese Red Cross has agreed to accept donations from the United Kingdom. The e-mail goes on to ask for money, to be donated via MoneyBookers. A Yahoo e-mail address is given, and the recipient is encouraged to donate using that address, or to click on a link to a MoneyBookers Web site to sign up for an account with the organization and make a donation.

Since the Red Cross, in any country, never sends out solicitations to individuals, this e-mail can officially be stamped a fraud. If you'd like to donate, search for the Red Cross site yourself and donate there, or use the official sites of other legitimate organizations.

It's also important that you take care when searching for news regarding the disaster. Hackers often poison search engine results to exploit breaking news in order to spread malware. Visit legitimate news sites only to keep up to date on developing news stories.

Be cautious of links which offer "dramatic" footage of a news story. Malicious hackers and scammers know people find it hard to resist clicking on such links and they plant malware and scams at the end of them.

Published Mar 15 2011, 11:20 AM by IdentityTheft
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