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FBI Warns: Many Tsunami Relief Pleas Are Fake 353

Posted by timothy
from the mailboxes-inundated dept.
lgrinberg writes "Even in the face of terrible disasters such as the Tsunami that hit South East Asia and Africa in late December, many are finding ways to take advantage of it and make money off of it. An example is fake websites that claim to be non-profit charitable organizations that help out the victims when they really take all the money for themselves. Other instances are emails or websites written by people who claim to be survivors of the disaster and are asking for help. The FBI warns that many of these are fake and recommends people to help via known non-profit organizations."
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FBI Warns: Many Tsunami Relief Pleas Are Fake

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  • by Lindsay Lohan (847467) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:08PM (#11305264) Homepage Journal
    many are finding ways to take advantage of it and make money off of it
    ZDNet Australia [] had a good article a few days ago about a website, [] that the Red Cross and Tasmanian police were investigating for fraud. They were using the Red Cross logo, soliciting for credit card, money order, or cash donations. Of course, they wouldn't return calls from the mobile phone number listed on the website.

    Amazingly, the site is still up. The owner, "Damion", offers the following weak apology:
    "My sincere apology to redcross Australia and world vision Australia , and other well know charity's for disfame i might of bought to your relief efforts or your company"
  • by Peden (753161) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:11PM (#11305282) Homepage
    Happened in Sweden (or maybe Britain). When the lists of missing persons was release, some people cross-referenced it to the list in the phone-book. Then they went out and fsking robbed the houses of the mising persons!
  • Wikipedia (Score:5, Informative)

    by JaxWeb (715417) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:13PM (#11305302) Homepage Journal
    As many of you have probably seen, Wikipedia is listing charities in various countries of a temporary page. They mention the need to look out for fraud, but I hope none of the sites listed are fraudulent in any way. The page is here [] .

    This is a news story [] about somebody changing e-mail headers to pretend to be the British government confirming friends of the recipients to be dead. Very sick. Luckily, the police acted in this case.
  • Giving intelligently (Score:5, Informative)

    by GuyMannDude (574364) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:13PM (#11305309) Journal

    Even legitimate charities are sometimes a bit sloppy with how they spend the contributions they get. Many non-profits spend a considerable portion of their donations on fund-raising (read: telemarketers) and compensation of management. One of my favorite non-profits is the American Institute of Philanthropy [] which is a watch-dog organization that releases reports that "rate" the charities on various criteria. Given the fact that there are so very many organizations that are set up to aid the tsunami victims, I encourage my fellow slashdotians to give their money to an organization that gets an A rating in the guide.


  • by SilentChris (452960) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:14PM (#11305315) Homepage
    During 9/11, people were shocked that street vendors sold water for $20 a bottle and nearby jewelry stores were robbed. I always thought "Well, if the disaster was of a much bigger magnitude, people would probably not do this."

    Now, 150,000 dead, and we still have assholes trying to make a buck off it. What does it take for these people to learn morals? Is the extra cash worth that much when there's now several thousand orphans? Do we need, what, a nuclear holocaust to get assholes to knock it off?
  • Reliable Orgs. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jfonseca (203760) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:18PM (#11305339)
    I've posted this in another discussion.

    Not karma hoaring, mods can skip this if they wish, here is a list of reliable places where you can donate [].
  • by jxyama (821091) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:23PM (#11305372)
    FYI, American Red Cross is rated A+.
  • I got one (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalgimpus (468277) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:23PM (#11305374) Homepage
    I got this via email the other day, and decided to post it for others to see:

    Tsunami Scam []

    Sounds like a nigerian letter, but with Tsunami mixed in there.
  • by Looke (260398) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:25PM (#11305385)
    That is what happened last time Sweden was hit by an accident this large. When the ferry Estonia sank in 1994, 800 or so were killed. This experience is the most important reason why the list of missing/dead Swedes has not been published yet.
  • Salvation Army (Score:4, Informative)

    by stankulp (69949) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:29PM (#11305408) Homepage
    The only charitable organization I contribute to is the Salvation Army.

    They have feet on the ground everywhere in the world, and they don't squander your money. It actually makes it to victims of disaster and poverty.
  • UH DUH! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:30PM (#11305418)
    This is the danger of everyone and there brother adding links to say help the tsunami survivors to their web pages. Everyone should have just link directly to the Red Cross web site or similar organization. This is why I have not donated anything yet because I want to be absolutely certain that when I donate the money, it goes to the right place. I will probably wait until the real money is needed. There's going to be alot of waste now and when everyone forgets about it is when the problem will really start. It will take YEARS to recover the area affected. It's not something that will even be over on December 26th of 2005. This is a once in a lifetime disaster for much of the world. The loss is tremendous. Unfortunately during times such as this, there's always some incredible assholes who think hey I will scam some people. As always, I give IN PERSON. Walk in to the Red Cross in your town and just give them a check or cash. Only then will you know that a good percentage of your money will go where it's needed. Also, don't just give to the Red Cross now. They always need your money. Make it a yearly donation and increase it a bit when the Red Cross is in need of extra help for hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes and terrorist attacks.

    Better yet, if your technically inclined, get your ham license and donate sometime to ARES by training in events and field day. Then when disaster strikes in your area, you'll be ready. I used to think it was ridiculous, but after a bad ice/snowstorm took out people's electric and 2-3 inches of rain falling right after that cause flooding in and around Columubus we'd never be needed but in just 14 days we had 2 activations of ARES to staff the red cross shelters with communciators. I know it won't help the Tsunami victims, but then when something like this hits your town, you can not only donate your money but also your time.
  • Re:Salvation Army (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:32PM (#11305437)

    The "Sally Ann", as it's called here, is just a big cult. They have their own churches ("Citadels" they call them) and enforce religion on their workers.
  • by henrik (98) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:38PM (#11305465)
    The list was never released by the state department (UD) in Sweden due to fear of this as it happened earlier when lists such as this was released to the public. So somebody told you a lie about it happening this time.

    The thing that did happen was that when newspapers and tabloids published names and photos of missing that relatives sent them; then some of those were robbed.
  • by soft_guy (534437) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:46PM (#11305525)
    Legitimate charities disclose the percentage of donations goes to overhead vs. to help victims. The IRS requires this, btw.

    For organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, the amount going to overhead is very small.

  • by SEWilco (27983) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:56PM (#11305571) Journal
    The biggest advantage of the existing charities is that some of them are already set up for this type of relief effort, and some were already active in the affected areas. Even if an organization did not have stocked warehouses in the right places, some organizations have people with experience at dealing with emergency situations and can get things moving in the right direction quickly. Those organizations who know how to deal with the political and physical infrastructures also have an advantage over new groups.

    Nevertheless, despite the risk of money being diverted, money is the best contribution. It can be sent around the world quickly, and aid organizations can buy appropriate supplies from the best locations. You might want to donate cans of baked beans and blankets, but it costs a lot of money and time to get such material to the other side of the world and baked beans and blankets might not be appropriate.

  • Paramount (Score:2, Informative)

    by pronobozo (794672) <> on Sunday January 09, 2005 @04:59PM (#11305584) Homepage
    Paramount Theatres has had spiderman and ET heart pins that are used for rasing money for charities. They are $3 each but they keep 2/3 of the money. In one ad they mentioned they raised 50 million meaning they made 100 million. It'd be nice if they gave their part aswell.
  • beware spammers too (Score:4, Informative)

    by AmericaHater (732718) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @05:01PM (#11305586) Journal
    Someone is circulating an email appealing for help identifying a lost western child. it says this:

    " The boy about 2 years, from Khoa Lak is missing his parents.
    Nobody knows what country he comes from. If
    anybody knows him please contact
    us by phone 076-249400-4 ext. 1336, 1339 or e- mail :

    Trouble is, it contained a spammers zombie (I didn't realise when I got it) and it depends on suckers trying to be helpful and recirculating it to people they know to infect them. That's how it got to me but 'cos I use Linux I was immune and I didnt circulate it anyway.
    What I did do was waste the cops and the Norwegian embassy's time. I recognised the kid in the picture from a TV news report that named his parent nationality name and location. I spent an hour on the phone to the TV station the police and the Norwegian consulate telling them that I knew who the kid was and I could help.
    Turns out they knew anyway so did I do right or wrong? did the spammer do wrong? suppose I had been the only one to indentify this lost 2 years to the parent but I had infected loads of people in the process?

    Spammers - what slime-bags.

  • by thesatch (844290) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @05:10PM (#11305642)
    Check out this story:
    T.O. police arrest man posing as Red Cross worker []

    There's no reason you should to give your money to strangers. If you can't/don't want to donate money over the internet, go to your local Redcross office. Every major city has one.
  • by SilentChris (452960) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @06:05PM (#11305941) Homepage
    Uh, well, actually at my company the employees started the contribution drive. It may end up being "good PR", but we actually wanted to team up and help. Bit cynical aren't you?
  • by parvin (846446) on Sunday January 09, 2005 @06:14PM (#11305993)
    Also []
  • Re:Just so you know (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Tyro (247333) * on Sunday January 09, 2005 @07:03PM (#11306225)
    you'd get situations like hospital ships being fair game in combat

    It's fair to mention that the LOAC (Laws of Armed Combat) make such facilities fair game if they are being used to perform military action. That said, I haven't seen too many terrorists being shy about targeting hospitals regardless of use, or using them (and mosques, and schools) as fighting positions. When I served in the Afghanistan theatre, we even made troops leave their long-arms (and all ordinance heavier than side-arms) outside our hospital. Now our "hospital" was a tent, we were miles from anything, and there were no media types around to see it, but we still did it. It wouldn't have stopped the terrorists from rocketing our position, but we at least tried to play by the rules.

    In the subject of the Red Cross, the LOAC explicitly prohibits perfidy, or treacherous actions, including misuse of the Red Cross or Red Crescent. The laws of warfare can probably stand alone without the support of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.