Everyone involved in the DaniWeb community, from the membership right through to the management, would like to offer sympathy and support to those suffering as a consequence of unfolding events in Japan. Unfortunately, some despicable types just see such tragedy as an opportunity to scam the kind-hearted majority out of cash that should be heading to those who need help.
As if the 8.9 magnitude earthquake which struck Japan, just north of Tokyo, last Friday wasn't bad enough, that was quickly followed by a devastating tsunami which has literally washed away some coastal towns and caused an unthinkable loss of human life. Amidst all this chaos, the lack of power and backup power, along with structural damage suffered by the Fukushima nuclear plant amongst others has led to explosions at three of the four reactor buildings and consequential radiation leak.
US-CERT has warned members of the public to be on the alert for email scams, fake antivirus and phishing attacks based around the earthquake and tsunami disaster. In that warning, first issued immediately after the tsunami struck and the scale of the tragedy became clear, CERT predicted that it would act as a magnet for the kind of online low-life that sends spam with malicious links, or puts out fake appeals for charitable donations. It would appear that CERT was, sadly, correct.
Security vendor Sophos has reported one such scam which is circulating and claims to originate from the British Red Cross. According to Sophos the email has a subject line of "Japan Tsunami Appeal | British Red Cross" and appears genuine , apart from the not so small fact that it asks for donations to be made via a service called MoneyBookers and wants that money to go to a random looking Yahoo email address. As Graham Cluley from Sophos points out, you should visit "the British Red Cross's official website if you wish to help the people of Japan" rather than respond to the equivalent of a very shady looking cold caller knocking on your door and asking for cash.
Finally, with the nuclear power plant radiation leak fears gaining increasing coverage on global news reports, it should perhaps come as no surprise that this is the latest subject matter to catch the attention of those with no hearts. The Register reports that bogus text messages claiming to originate from the BBC are spreading widely in the Philippines (a country which was on tsunami alert after the Japan earthquake struck). Rather than being a scam designed to coax money out of kind people though, this time it seems the whole thing is just intended to spread alarm. Quite probably someone thinks it is a joke, no matter how sick, to spread false rumor that radiation from the Fukushima plant has reached the Philippines and warn people to stay indoors. The Philippines government is not amongst them, and has issued a denial through the Department of Science and Technology explaining that the messages are a hoax.
So, members of the DaniWeb community and the wider Internet beyond, please do all you can to help the Japanese people in this time of need. But do ensure that your help is not being diverted into the pocket of evil and sick scammers.
DaniWeb advises that people should visit an official website of a charity if they wish to respond to an appeal and donate money, even if that desire was prompted by an official looking email appeal. Indeed, even if the email is genuine we would advise that you manually enter the charity site URL in your browser rather than click a link in your email, just to be extra safe. Alternatively, use a one-stop donation finding service such as Charity Navigator . It offers lots of additional advice to help ensure your money not only doesn't end up in the pocket of a criminal, but does end up doing some good. Charity Navigator advises that you avoid giving to newly formed charities, for example, and instead donate to an established charity with a track record of working within Japan in order to ensure that, in the midst of a crisis such as this, your money is targeted where it is needed most.