Scammers already are trying to take advantage of the outpouring of compassion following Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster. Let it be a warning for charity-minded individuals to be on the lookout for phony aid appeals.
One fraudulent scheme involves an e-mail claiming to be from the British Red Cross and that asks recipients to make Japan aid donations via wire transfer, FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said Monday.
Legitimate charities don't make requests for wire transfers.
Further evidence that fraudsters are seeking to profit from the tragedy is the proliferation of websites purporting to represent charities.
Roughly 350 Internet addresses related to Japan were registered in a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday, according to Internet security expert John Bambenek. The names reference Japan and such terms as "earthquake relief," ''aid" and "help." Many ask for money.
"Some are probably legitimate," said Bambenek, who works for the Bethesda, Md.-based Internet Storm Center, which tracks viruses and other security problems. "But nobody can set up a charity that fast."
Still another con artist used search-engine optimization techniques to make a bogus site appear at the top of Google search results for Japan quake information. The site pretended to be advertising anti-virus software but actually was malicious, Bambenek said.
Here are a few tips to help you steer clear of scams and donate wisely to legitimate charities:
Image: Indian school children hold placards at a special prayer for the Japanese people affected by Friday's earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis it spawned, in Jammu, India
Text & Images: AP