Criminals kick off Japanese disaster scams at record speed

Criminals have jumped on Japan’s twin earthquake and tsunami disasters at record speed, security experts said today.Scams range from links to fake anti-virus downloads and phony donation sites to classic online swindles that rely on greed. see:Beware New Japan Disaster Relief Web Sites
First came the massive earthquake in Japan. Then the even bigger tsunami and threat of nuclear meltdown. Now there’s the totally predictable deluge of new Web sites promoting relief fundraising, which, if past experience in the Internet age is any judge, will prove to be havens of inexperience, inefficiency, profiteering or outright fraud.Since the Japanese disaster literally started unfolded live on TV screens and computer terminals around the world on Friday, Internet users have rushed to register scores of domain names with evocative words touching upon the catastrophe. Besides “Japan” or “Japanese,” often coupled with “tsunami” or “earthquake,” or “quake,” other frequent words include “help,”, “give,” “donate,” “build,” hope,” “care,” “rebuild,” “victims,” “needs” and “relief.” Registrations, which are on a first-come, first-served basis, usually cost no more than $20. the Wake of Japan’s Massive Earthquake, FTC Warns Consumers About Potential Charity Scams [news release]
After the earthquake that rocked Japan’s northeast coast and triggered a widespread tsunami last week, the Federal Trade Commission is urging consumers to be cautious of potential charity scams.The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, warns consumers to carefully consider urgent appeals for aid that they receive in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites.The agency’s Charity Checklist advises consumers about donating wisely to charities. If you are asked to contribute to a charity, the FTC recommends that you:

  • Ask for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly;
  • Ask what percentage of your donation will support the cause described in the solicitation;
  • Verify that the charity has authorized the solicitation;
  • Do not provide any credit card or bank information until you have reviewed all information from the charity and made the decision to donate;
  • Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax deductible; and
  • Avoid cash gifts. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check – made payable to the beneficiary, not the solicitor.

For more information about how you can help disaster victims in Japan, visit the U.S.Agency for International Development website.

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