There are a number of news articles out, warning people to beware of falling for a scam when making donations for disaster relief to Japan.
Forbes.com has an article warning of fraudulent websites: http://blogs.forbes.com/williampbarrett ... web-sites/
excerpt from that article:
Beware New Japan Disaster Relief Web Sites
By WILLIAM P. BARRETT
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.
Marketwatch.com has an article, here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/donate ... 2011-03-14 with information on how to avoid scams. A portion of that article:
Already, a scam email is circulating that purports to be from the British Red Cross, asking that donations be wired, said Jenny Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman.
“If you are moved to make a donation to help people in Japan,” Shearer said, “look up whatever organization you like to give your money to, go to their website, find them in the phone book, or go to their office if they’re near you ... If you respond to an email or you wire money, that money is not going to go where you intend it to go to.”
And here is the information from a March 11, 2011 press release from the FBI on avoiding scams when making donations:
Tips On Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes
Recently several natural disasters, including tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes, have devastated lives and property. In the wake of these events that have caused emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims, frequently through monetary donations.
These disasters prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause. Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
•Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
•Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
•Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
•Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
•To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
•Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
•Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
•Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
To obtain more information on charitable contribution schemes and other types of online schemes, visit http://www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com.
If you believe you have been a victim of a charity related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by telephone at (866) 720-5721, or by fax at (225) 334-4707, or by e-mail at email@example.com You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.IC3.gov.
1 National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to relief fraud.