On Monday, experts started warning people about donation scams leveraging the Typhoon Haiyan, which hit Vietnam and the Philippines and killed over 10,000 individuals. Symantec provides an example of such a scam.
The emails are entitled “Help Philippines” and they read something like this:
“I am Andrew Stevens, international anchor and reporter, currently in Philippines due to the Philippines typhoon storm that killed estimated 10,000 people, Please they need your help, We need your donations so these people can have food and shelter.”
Recipients are instructed to respond to the emails, after which they’ll be provided with Western Union information where they can send donations.
This is a perfect example of a scam. Fraudsters are leveraging news about a disaster in hopes that they can convince people to donate without giving it too much thought. The bogus messages appear to come from a reporter to make everything more legitimate-looking.
If you give out money in response to such an email, you can rest assured that you’re not helping victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Instead, you’re filling the pockets of some crooks. By sending so-called donations via Western Union, it makes it difficult for authorities to track down the culprits, so chances are that you’ll never get your money back. Beware!