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Fraudsters target disaster searches again

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Adding to the public’s growing disaster fatigue following the Japan and New Zealand earthquakes, online fraudsters have been prolific in attempts to try and scam charity donors.

According to Symantec’s April report, phishers have been trying to take advantage of the situation in Japan and New Zealand by creating fake donation sites and sending spam donation emails.

The fraudsters using the New Zealand earthquake to their advantage also created a phishing site, based in Austria, spoofing the Red Cross website for New Zealand and requested help from end users. To make the donation, users were required to enter certain confidential information including email address, postal address, credit card number, three digit security number, card expiration date, four digit PIN code, driver license number, and date of birth. Upon entering the required information, the Web page redirected victims to the legitimate Red Cross website.

In the case of Japan, emails were sent containing an image with a link that leads to malware. Once the link is opened, the user is asked to download and install an executable file that is malware related to a Brazilian banking Trojan.

The malware gathers the user’s Internet banking credentials and other sensitive information. The scammers have also been exploiting the relief efforts by sending 419 scam emails that have been prevalent ever since the natural disaster took place, which include a Nigerian styled fake personalized messages that urge people to help the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami while the country is battling a nuclear crisis. ®

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