FBI Warns About Fake Katrina Charity Web Sites
Many of the 4,000 Web sites advertising relief services for Hurricane
Katrina are fake and about 60 percent of them come from overseas --
a sign they may be bogus, the FBI said on Tuesday.
Senior FBI and Justice Department officials warned Americans who want
to donate money to the relief effort to be cautious to avoid
fraudulent charities, including those that pretend to be major
organizations like the Red Cross. Just because they _say_ they are
the Red Cross does not mean they actually are Red Cross. After all,
look at the large number of fake banks and fake PayPal sites operating.
"Just like these natural disasters bring out the best in people, they
also bring out some of the worst elements of the criminal element out
there who are willing to take advantage of those who are willing to
give and those who so desperately need the relief," said Chris
Swecker, chief of the FBI's criminal investigative division.
Swecker said the FBI is investigating sites of fraudulent
charities. He said there are about 4,000 sites advertising Katrina
relief services, and about 60 percent of them are coming from
"That overseas angle is not a reason unto itself to conclude that
that's a scam Web site, but it is a reason to be cautious," he said.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said some of the bogus sites
had been shut down but would not give details on the number or how
many investigations had been launched.
"We must ensure that those offering a helping hand do not become
victims themselves and that those found preying on the compassion of
our citizens are punished," he said.
The Red Cross' general counsel, Mary Elcano, said the organization had
hired a security company to scan the Internet for fake e-mails that
try to trick people into providing credit card numbers and personal
information on a Web site that looks like the one run by the Red
"If the companies don't go away ... the Department of Justice will
prosecute and, if necessary, the Red Cross will file a civil action to
seek restitution," she said.
Officials urged people who want to donate money not to click on links
but to directly type in the Web address of the charity in order to
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I saw an op-ed piece yesterday from one
of the papers saying some 'tough love' was needed in the instance of
Katrina. The writer suggested people should give _nothing_ to help the
victims of Katrina, since, as he put it, 'by doing so, you are giving
the government a 'free pass' (or a less expensive pass) on the whole
problem.' He pointed out that all the charity money raised from all
sources thus far, was only a drop in the bucket of what will be needed
in any event. He suggested 'sticking it to the government, which is
where it will wind up anyway.' I think that is sort of a mean,
hateful approach, but I can't judge. PAT]