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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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SCAM ALERT: FAKE JAPAN DISASTER RELIEF CHARITIES

March 15, 2011

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger warns Oregonians to be alert for scam artists posing as Japan disaster relief charities. While many legitimate organizations are seeking donations to aid victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, theives are sending e-mails, making phone calls, and posting fake video footage on social media sites to steal money and personal information.

Scam artists are becoming increasingly adept at exploiting disasters for personal gain. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, text messages became a convenient and popular way to donate to legitimate groups like the American Red Cross. Scam artists caught on to this trend and started sending mass "charity relief" text messages, requesting credit card numbers and other sensitive information.

In a new twist on the "emergency" scam, hackers are now using alleged video footage of the disaster in Japan linked to malware and online surveys that are designed to extract personal information. For example, one report describes a video linked to a scammer's Facebook account. By clicking on the video, the viewer's personal information shared on Facebook becomes available to the scammer.

Attorney General Kroger offers the following tips to avoid common emergency relief scams:

  • Be sure you are contributing to a legitimate organization registered with the Attorney General's Office by searching the Department's online database or calling 971-673-1880. You can also visit www.guidestar.org or www.charitynavigator.org, to get detailed information about charities and their performance.
  • Give to established charities. Creating an efficient and effective charity overnight is nearly impossible, make sure the charity was around before the disaster.
  • Do not respond to email requests from supposed disaster victims. Unless you know someone in Japan, these requests are almost always scams. Also, be wary of donation requests or videos posted on social media sites by alleged victims or unfamiliar charities.
  • Do not give out personal information via phone, text or email. Legitimate charities will be pleased to receive a contribution by check. Don't send contributions with a "runner," by wire or overnight parcel pick-up service.
  • Beware of calls, emails and texts requesting fast money. If you are unfamiliar with the charity, always ask for written materials. No legitimate organization will insist that you donate immediately. Watch out for solicitors who employ dramatic, emotional or heart-tugging stories. For example:

Dear Sir/ Madam,
My Name is Abdul Colins, I am the head of the Malaysia humanitarian aid to japan.
Japan has suffered the worst disaster since WWII. The earthquake and tsunami that took place recently have killed over 10,000 people and caused widespread damage. There are at least 100,000 people who are in mourning for their lost loved ones or who are injured.
There are many more that are without food, water or electricity. A lot of children are homeless, it has been a sad and bad story to tell for some of us that have been there.
We will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist the little children and some homeless families.
please use the name blow to send whatever u can through western union Money Transfer.
Name: Abdul Colins
Address: 17A, Jalan Kuchin Seksyen, Mahkota Melaka, Malaysia
After you have send the money, email to us the western union money transfer control number or you can attach and forward to us the western union money transfer receipt so that we can pick up the money fast for their help.
Thanks for your help
Abdul Colins

Scammers and identity thieves pose a significant threat to Oregon consumers. Last year Oregonians reported losing nearly $2 million to scams. The Oregon Department of Justice is committed to protecting Oregon consumers. Anyone who thinks they may have been contacted by a scammer should call Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 or go to www.oregonattorneygeneral.gov.

Contact:

Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 tony.green@doj.state.or.us |
Consumer Protection Hotline: 1-877-877-9392 Online: www.doj.state.or.us |
Online: www.oregonattorneygeneral.gov |
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