Katrina heralds wave of phishing fraud

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Spammers and phishers hoping to profit from hurricane Katrina have been waging a week-long email campaign.

With depressing predictability, fake Red Cross and other charity donation sites have been set up to con users out of money and emails containing malware are being spammed under the guise of Katrina news.

"This is not the first time we have seen immoral opportunists take advantage of a natural disaster to fill their pockets with money meant for victims," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at antivirus company Sophos. Back in January SC reported internet criminals were cashing in on the Asian tsunami disaster.

But the swathe of Katrina scams took a little longer than expected to arrive in user inboxes. According to SurfControl, such scams typically occur within two to three days of the event, but a lack of public awareness and electrical blackouts may have slowed spammers and phishers hoping to benefit from hurricane Katrina.

In the latest scam, an email pretending to be from the Red Cross directs users to a spoofed website that looks very similar to the real American Red Cross Hurricane relief fund website. But any donations will only end up in the pockets of criminals.

Any SC readers wishing to donate to a legitimate Katrina charity organisation should start here.

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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