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For Immediate Release
January 5, 2005 Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
 

TSUNAMI DISASTER RELIEF FRAUD ALERT

Washington, D.C. - The FBI today is alerting the public to a variety of
scams currently being facilitated online involving the solicitation of
additional relief funds for the victims of the recent Tsunami disaster.
The FBI, through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), has received
reports of websites being established purportedly to assist with collection
and relief efforts. Complaints submitted to the IC3 have identified several
schemes that involve both unsolicited in-coming emails (SPAM), as well as
reports of responses to posted email addresses, to assist for a fee, in
locating loved ones who may have been a victim of the disaster. A fraudulent
relief donation website has also been detected containing an imbedded Trojan exploit which can infect the user's computer with a virus if accessed.

The FBI, in conjunction with domestic with international law enforcement and industry partners, take seriously these egregious actions and are resolved to aggressively pursuing those who would attempt to victimize philanthropic individuals.

The IC3 is cautioning citizens against participating in this type of on-line
correspondence. Consistent with previous guidance on incidents of
Phishing/Spoofing and Identity Theft, when considering on-line options for
providing funding to this relief effort consumers should consider the
following:

Do not respond to any unsolicited (SPAM) incoming emails.
Be skeptical of individuals claiming to be surviving victims or foreign
government officials asking for help in placing large sums of money in
overseas bank accounts.

To ensure that contributions to U.S. based non-profit organizations are used for intended purposes, go directly to recognized charities and aid organizations websites, as opposed to following a link to another site.

Attempt to verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing
various Internet based resources which may assist in confirming the
existence of the organization as well as its non-profit status.
Be leery of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in
attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from
know senders.

Several variations of this scam are currently in circulation. Anyone who has
received an email referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the IC3 via the
website, www.ic3.gov.