Like the Asian Earthquake Tsunami two years ago, it is only a matter of time before Nigerian/419 scammers start taking advantage of the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, by soliciting funds for “relief efforts”. The unfortunate part is, whoever gave money to these scammers would only be relieving money from their wallets and the donation will not reach the victims who desperately need them.
Here is the first of the samples we have been seeing in our spamtraps:
This first sample purports to be from the UK Red Cross and asks the victim to send money through Western Union. The “From” email address is not from Red Cross and the “Reply-to” address is a webmail account. Quite typical of Nigerian/419 scams. The only thing the scammers did get right is the mail address for the UK Red Cross. I wonder if the scammers will even be able to access the money from Western Union since it would be hard for them to proof their residence at the listed address.
Subject: Help Earthquake victims in Haiti
From: “RED CROSS INTERNATIONAL” <email@example.com>
The Red Cross international Turkey hereby appeal to you friends, public, families and companies, to help us with online fund raising to enable us treat Haiti Earthquake victims affected with Earthquake disaster across North America. Visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/8455774.stm to see why your help/money is highly needed.
Help the needy, poor and sick, no amount is small for God loves a cheerful giver. In order to expedite the sending of the relief funds to the needy urgently, you are advised to send us your donation/contribution to Turkey by express Western Union Money Transfer ( www.westernunion.com ) through the name of our financial officers Mrs. Joyce Henendez and Mr. Loreto Hassan respectively.
You are advised to respond back to this mail and provide us with the transfer details including your contact address.
N.B: Donators from 100 to 4500 Euros will only have their names appeared in our relief magazines and websites while those donations above ( 5000 Euros) to any amount will have a space for their photos, names and business adverts in our magazines and websites. Please send us your photos and business details.
We await your urgent response and thanks for your co-operations and generosity to mankind.
Similar to the previous example, the scammers ask for transfer using Western Union, and replacing British Red Cross with Red Cross International Turkey. For this sample, they did get the “From” address right by spoofing the domain to be icrc.org (International Committee of the Red Cross). They have also created an address “icic-relief@<redacted>” at one of the free webmail services to make the message more believable.. To sweeten the deal for the scam, the scammers claim that donors who give larger donations (>5000) will have their names and photos and business listed in the magazine and sites.
One thing that struck me is the large donation amount the scammers are asking. This is higher than the value solicited in typical Nigerian/419 scams.
All said, I do encourage people to donate to the disaster relief in Haiti. As long as the money does not end up in the pockets of scammers. Please do use the proper means by going through the official Red Cross or other charities websites.
For convenience, I listed links to a few of the official Red Cross sites. I know the skeptics amongst the readers would probably type the web address yourselves.
On a related note, for the Canadian readers, the Canadian government is matching earthquake relief donations through registered charities dollar to dollar, up to 50 million CAD. Canadian Red Cross is one such registered charitable organization: