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Typhoon Haiyan donation scams emerge online

November 17, 2013 9:07 am

Symantec warns everyone to be extra cautious while opening unsolicited emails

Spammers have started taking advantage of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record that struck the Philippines this week, leaving behind a trail of mass destruction. With more than 10,000 people reported to be dead, call for help has been raised by several NGOs and organisations worldwide.

Donation requests have been posted on different social networking platforms and popular websites. Meanwhile, many are exploiting both victims and donors by sending email containing fake donation requests. In the example pictured, the spammer has sent an email that seems perfectly fine at first glance, but when you take a closer look, you can see that it is sent from a different email ID with the subject line: ‘HELP PHILIPPINES’.

The spammer disguises himself as a professional anchor and reporter for a reputable news channel. The organisation seems to be helping impacted victims from the affected parts of the Philippines. The spammer also speaks about transferring funds through a reputable bank.

He provides another email ID, which is created using a free email service provider, for further correspondence. The overall feel and content of the email is presented in a very genuine and polite manner, so that recipients won’t notice that it’s actual a scam. Symantec recommends the following precautions in order to avoid such scams:

  • Be extra vigilant while opening unsolicited emails
  • Verify the authenticity of the organisation to whom you are transferring donations
  • Do not respond to emails that ask for personal and confidential information

Symantec also recommends updating anti-spam signatures regularly.  It is also on the lookout for new tricks, including phishing attacks, malware and social networking attacks, related to Typhoon Haiyan. The firm has pledged that it will continue to investigate such attacks.