In the wake of such a destructive storm as Hurricane Sandy, many people feel the urge to reach out and help their fellow man, but at the same time, criminals feel the urge to take advantage of that kindness for their own personal gain.
Eugene H. Spafford, professor and executive director of Purdue’s Center for Educations and Research in Information Assurance and Security, said it’s not uncommon for con artists and scammers to try to weasel people out of their hard-earned money through the use of advanced methods to take money through contributions, often online.
Researchers at CERIAS know that criminals will take advantage of the most tragic of circumstances, banking on people’s sense of urgency and compassion to overcome their normal caution. Spafford encourages people to stay on the lookout for fraudulent appeals for aid from what appear to be hurricane victims or charities, commonly sent through email or social networking sites.
Oftentimes these fraudulent appeals will sound convincing, even going so far as to manufacture legitimate-appearing websites. CERIAS offers the following tips to avoid being scammed: do not enter information at a web page that appears unexpectedly, never click on a website address sent in an email, do not respond to emails requesting donations or special offers, and do not reveal personal or financial information during a phone call you did not dial.
Spafford recommends donating to the American Red Cross as a reliable charity for domestic disaster relief.