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Scammers use Japanese earthquake for charity donation fraud

Jenny Williams

Scammers are using the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan to appeal for fraudulent charity donations, a security firm has warned.

Security firm, Symantec, warns of 419-style fraud scams as well as malicious .zip files and nefarious attackers sending malicious Java scripts attached to fake charity donation appeals.

In a blog post, Samir Patil, security researcher at Symantec, adds: "Symantec researchers observed more than 50 domains with the names of either 'Japan tsunami' or 'Japan earthquake'. These domains are either parked, available for sale, or are linked to earthquake sites. Don't be surprised if you see these domains being used in phishing and spam attacks."

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also warns of online charity scams appealing for donations via emails, websites and social networks.

The FTC agency advises to check what percentage of a donation will support the cause, verify the charity's credentials, avoid providing credit card or bank information until all the charity's information has been considered, avoid cash gifts and ask for a receipt.

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) previously warned of "potential e-mail scams, fake antivirus and phishing attacks regarding the Japan earthquake and the tsunami disasters".

"E-mail scams may contain links or attachments which may direct users to phishing or malware-laden websites," said US-CERT in a statement.

Analysts have warned the earthquake in northern Japan last week could damage the semiconductor industry and chip supply chain.


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