Saturday, March 2, 2024

Want to help ?Yolanda? survivors? Make sure not to fall for online scams

An Internet security firm has sounded the alarm button on many scams circulating in the Internet that are taking advantage of Typhoon Yolanda.

In a media alert, Trend Micro said fake Facebook pages are proliferating asking for donations via PayPal, which end up in the hands of would-be scammers rather than the hands of legitimate charities.

The particular Facebook page (photo above) actually asks users to visit the scammer?s own blog, which asks users to make a ?donation? via PayPal. They go so far as to take them to the PayPal payment page ? where it becomes clear that the user is sending money to somebody?s personal account and not a legitimate charity.

Fake Facebook pages aren?t the only type of scam that took advantage of the calamity, said Trend Micro. ?We spotted several spammed messages with Typhoon Haiyan (international name of Yolanda) as the subject. These messages often required the recipients to give their personal information or send money via wire or bank transfers,? it noted.

The security firm said that while it might seem deplorable to take advantage of natural disasters, it?s simply usual business for cybercriminals.

It observed that in previous disasters ? like the 2011 tsunami/earthquake in Japan ? attackers have taken advantage of the tragedy to create phishing pages, spam attacks, and blackhat SEO attacks.

The company suggested tips on how users can protect themselves from the scams and make sure that their donations end up in the right hands:

? Give to organizations you know and/or trust. Some scammers will try to pass themselves off as new charities established expressly for this disaster. Instead, donate to well-known charities that have been around for years. Alternately, smaller organizations that you personally know and trust to be reliable can also be a safe choice.

? Be careful about appeals from social media and e-mail. Appeals to donate to various charities are spreading both via social media and e-mail messages. While many, if not most, of these are not scams, some will be. Some may be appeals from fake charities; others may just be lures to direct users to malicious websites. In either case, be careful about listening to these appeals. If you do decide to give to an organization whose appeal you saw here, go directly to their site by typing their URL into the address bar or using a search engine. This will help minimize the risks from potentially malicious links.

? Check the payment site carefully. If you?re making a donation online, check the payment site as carefully as you would any other online payment. Whether it?s entering your credit card information directly, or using some other online payment site (like Amazon, Google, or PayPal,) be aware that these can be phished as well.

?There are many charities that could use your donations, but this is not the time to let your guard down. These tips can help ensure that your donation gets to where it is needed the most. We also note that you can make donations to the American Red Cross from inside Facebook itself; details can be found in their official blog,? concluded Trend Micro.

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