Thursday, January 14, 2010

Give confidently to Haiti

When an appalling tragedy like the devastating Haiti earthquake happens you can be sure two things will happen.

Firstly, an outpouring of generosity and assistance from the public of Britain, Europe and America will raise millions in relief funds.

Secondly, a groundswell of fraudulent scam artists will emerge from under their rock to try to skim off some of that money – just as they did for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the tsunami of 2004.

Now it’s reported that the fraudsters are rushing to register URLs capitalising on Tuesday’s natural disaster on the blighted Caribbean island where hundreds of thousands of people are at risk. Security researchers at the Internet Storm Centre have already logged the appearance of suspicious domains not connected to recognised charities. Some will be legitimate but some won’t.

There are government warnings released against these criminals but how many well intentioned people will see them, trying to pledge their hard earned cash to assist the rescue efforts? With the rise of Twitter, Facebook, etc. there are new methods of exploiting the public’s generosity.

The well respected website, The Register reports this:

“Scams have evolved since the days of Katrina so that Black Hat search engine manipulation is used to promote dodgy sites, Twitter tag-poisoning and even paid search engine placement ads may be brought into play to increase traffic flowing towards fraudulent domains. Cybercrooks may also attempt to trick surfers into downloading malware under the guise of codecs supposedly needed to view video reports of the Haitian tragedy, if previous experience is any guide.”

The FBI and the Better Business Bureau have released guidelines for all who wish to be sure their donations go where they are desperately needed – and not into the pockets of unscrupulous crooks cashing in on the misery in Haiti.

So please don’t stop giving. These appallingly afflicted people need your cash. Sticking to the well known charity names is always safe. The Red Cross, Save the Children, etc. You can consult the website of the Disaster Emergency Committee in the UK and the IFRC internationally for guidance.

The victims of this terrible disaster need you – right now.

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