Red Cross Double-Cross
Date Added: Oct. 9, 2005
As we've certainly (and unfortunately) seen in recent months, large scale natural disasters bring out the best and worst in people. While corporations and individuals have donated billions to relief efforts victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, there are others who would gladly use those tragedies to separate a fool from his money. Beware if you receive a solicitation via e-mail purporting to be from the Red Cross. Here's an example of a scam being perpetrated in that organization's name.
From: American Red Cross [firstname.lastname@example.org]
This are some of the tragic events wich we ask you to support all those people wich houses and all they had it is history :
National Disaster Relief Fund:
Your Local Red Cross Chapter:
International Response Fund:
Biomedical Services Capital Campaign:
To help all this peoples click here .
The American Red Cross is not a government agency and all Red Cross disaster assistance is free thanks to the generosity of people like you.The value of your donation is increased by the fact that the ratio of volunteer Red Cross workers to paid staff is almost 36 to one.
Contributions to the American Red Cross, a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, are deductible for computing income and estate taxes.
This message arrives in your inbox looking every bit like a legitimate solicitation from the American Red Cross, complete with convincing-looking text and and images. It may also contain several photographs of disaster-affected homes and neighborhoods. While the photographs are unrelated and have been tacked on for good measure, the text and masthead images are 'borrowed' directly from the Red Cross web site (in particular, their online donation form).
But don't be fooled, this e-mail is not from a legitimate party representing that organization or any other charity.
Clicking the link (which I strongly recommend against) will take you to a web page that looks like part of the Red Cross web site, but is not. Instead, it is a front for a scam known as "phishing." "Phishers" trick their prey into believing they are responding to a bona fide request for information from an organization with which the potential victim has an established relationship. They use convincing-looking e-mails messages and fake web pages to create a false sense of security. When victims fill out the form on one of these phishing sites, they've just handed a criminal all the information he or she needs to clean out their bank accounts, rack up enormous debt or even steal their identity.
The American Red Cross does not solicit donations via unsolicited e-mail (spam) or direct telephone solicitation, and they discourage folks from responding to such calls and e-mails. A legitimate request for donations from the Red Cross would include a wide variety of methods to contribute, as in this Red Cross news release on potential fraud:
"To ensure that your donation goes directly to the American Red Cross, you can make a secure online donation through our website (www.redcross.org), call 1-800-HELP-NOW to make a donation by phone, or contact your local American Red Cross chapter. You may also mail your donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Response Fund at P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013; or visit one of our official Red Cross donation partners.
"Many charity watchdog groups have created tips for individuals to ensure that their donation goes directly to the organization of their choice. Some of the recommendations include visiting that organization's website directly; don't be fooled by names that closely resemble the name of a well-known charity; research the charity that you plan to donate to; be wary of telephone solicitations. For more tips on this topic, visit www.give.org or www.charitynavigator.org.
"The Red Cross takes fraud seriously and often works with federal, state and local law enforcement on stopping fraudulent fundraising. The Red Cross continues to communicate on a regular basis with other non-profit groups, the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general offices and media and members of the public to investigate reports of improper and fraudulent fundraising.
"If an individual is suspicious of a promotion claiming to benefit the American Red Cross, please contact your local Red Cross chapter to report the activity. The American Red Cross will follow-up any leads on potentially fraudulent scams and will take appropriate action."
If you receive the e-mail above, or one similar, do not respond to it in any way. You may be tempted to reply to the sender to let them know that you know it is a scam, but don't. The folks behind ruses like these are not bored teenagers having fun trying to see if they can score a buck from a sucker - they are often hardened and organized criminals who will often stop at nothing to get what they are after.
The American Red Cross recommends you report any suspected fraud in their name to your local Red Cross chapter, which you can locate on their web site.
For many of us, the urge to do the right thing is strong. Unfortunately, there are many more out there who would gladly take advantage of others' generosity. Giving to the red cross is easy, but not quite as easy as this e-mail tries to make it. Break this chain!
References: Red Cross News Release