Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FBI warns of Katrina online scams

A press release from the San Diego FBI office:

Similar to the Tsunami scams which surfaced last winter, there has been a rapid increase in websites and associated SPAM being deployed; purporting to be legitimate fundraising efforts for the victims of the recent Hurricane and subsequent massive flooding in the Gulf coast region.  Over the past week, there have been more than 500 sites advertising Hurricane Katrina relief services.  On Friday, September 2nd, there were approximately 300 established that day alone.

The challenge is to quickly analyze and assess those sites which appear to be illegitimate and to develop a strategy to ascertain the responsible parties and ensure the safety of the public, who research these sites.  In order to do this, the FBI relies heavily on key partnerships established with both; law enforcement (domestically and abroad) and in many cases, with the well-known charitable organizations, who good names are being used to give credibility to the scammers.

As with the Tsunami fraud scams, the FBI continues to enlist substantial cooperation from its law enforcement partners, particularly the US Postal Inspection Service, US Secret Service, DHS, and a vast array of state and local agencies.  As many of these scams involve international aspects, our growing partnership with international law enforcement will be vital in efficiently following and capturing the evidence trail.

Several matters have been developed and referred out for investigation throughout the FBI.  We expect the number of investigative referrals to increase over the next several weeks.

Those who desire to contribute to the Hurricane Katrina funds should carefully research the organizations soliciting funds to ensure the monies donated will be used as guaranteed.

Anyone with information concerning a scam related to Hurricane Katrina victims should contact the FBI at 858-565-1255.