When a natural disaster strikes, where is your focus? Most of us initially feel intense sympathy for the victims. Next, we wonder how we can help. However, there are people who are more than willing to exploit our sympathies in such a situation, and there seems to be no limit to the depths to which such people will stoop. The recent earthquake in China is a prime example.
While we should be focused on relief efforts, we unfortunately need to be on guard for bogus requests for help. Just today, MX Logic posted a warning about a phishing attack in which a bogus email tells a sad tale of a young couple with extended family in China, asking for money to help them make the trip to go to their relatives’ aid. (To read the letter, go to MX Logic’s IT Security Blog, at http://www.mxlogic.com/itsecurityblog/1/2008/05/New-Chinese-Earthquake-Relief-Phishing-Scam.cfm.)
This is probably not the first scam connected to the disaster in China, nor will it be the last. According to Sam Masiello, director of threat management at MX Logic, "This type of scam \[occurred\] after Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 and the Indian tsunami in 2004 and now we are sure to see more scams over the coming weeks that purport to be from relief organizations and/or companies who claim to be affiliated with them.”
If you’re interested in helping victims of the earthquake, go through a legitimate organization such as the American Red Cross. And as always, be wary of any request for help that you receive via email. (Remember, there is no child dying of leukemia and trying to break the world’s record for the number of get-well cards received; Microsoft isn’t tracking email messages and issuing rebates; adding your name to an email petition won’t cause legislators to vote for or against a law; and underarm deodorant doesn’t cause breast cancer. Seriously—keep using deodorant.)