[windows2000] Fwd: After the Storm, the Swindlers

  • From: "Jim Kenzig Kenzig.com" <jkenzig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: windows2000@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, thin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2005 06:00:07 -0700 (PDT)

I just wanted to tell and remind people that there are many scams going on via 
email and now many of them are involving the victims of Hurricane Katrina. One 
such scam even makes you think you are donating to the American Red Cross and 
attempts to steal your credit card numbers. There are also many telephone 
solicitation scams. 

Please remember to be vigilant and not respond to these emails or cold calls. 
Your best way of donating is to send your money directly to the charitable 
organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. These 
organizations offer you a receipt for your donation. 

Please see the below article from todays New York Times for some further 



September 8, 2005 

After the Storm, the Swindlers


Even as millions of Americans rally to make donations to the victims of 
Hurricane Katrina, the Internet is brimming with swindles, come-ons and 
opportunistic pandering related to the relief effort in Louisiana, Mississippi 
and Alabama. And the frauds are more varied and more numerous than in past 
disasters, according to law enforcement officials and online watchdog groups.

Florida's attorney general has already filed a fraud lawsuit against a man who 
started one of the earliest networks of Web sites - katrinahelp.com, 
katrinadonations.com and others - that stated they were collecting donations 
for storm victims. 

In Missouri, a much wider constellation of Internet sites - with names like 
parishdonations.com and katrinafamilies.com - displayed pictures of the 
flood-ravaged South and drove traffic to a single site, InternetDonations.org, 
a nonprofit entity with apparent links to white separatist groups.

The registrant of those Web sites was sued by the state of Missouri yesterday 
for violating state fund-raising law and for "omitting the material fact that 
the ultimate company behind the defendants' Web sites supports white 

Late yesterday afternoon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation put the number of 
Web sites claiming to deal in Katrina information and relief - some legitimate, 
others not - at "2,300 and rising." Dozens of suspicious sites claiming links 
to legitimate charities are being investigated by state and federal 
authorities. Also under investigation are e-mail spam campaigns using the 
hurricane as a hook to lure victims to reveal credit card numbers to thieves, 
as well as fake hurricane news sites and e-mail "updates" that carry malicious 
code aimed at hijacking a victim's computer.

"The numbers are still going up," said Dan Larkin, the chief of the Internet 
Crime Complaint Center operated by the F.B.I. in West Virginia. He said that 
the amount of suspicious, disaster-related Web activity was higher than the 
number of swindles seen online after last year's tsunami in Southeast Asia. 
"We've got a much higher volume of sites popping up," he said.

The earliest online frauds began to appear within hours of Katrina's passing. 
"It was so fast it was amazing," said Audri Lanford, co-director of 
ScamBusters.org, an Internet clearinghouse for information on various forms of 
online fraud. "The most interesting thing is the scope," she said. "We do get a 
very good feel for the quantity of scams that are out there, and there's no 
question that this is huge compared to the tsunami." 

By the end of last week, Ms. Landford's group had logged dozens of 
Katrina-related swindles and spam schemes. The frauds ranged from opportunistic 
marketing (one spam message offered updates on the post-hurricane situation, 
with a link that led to a site peddling Viagra) to messages said to be from 
victims, or families of victims. 

"This letter is in request for any help that you can give," reads one crude 
message that was widely distributed online. "My brother and his family have 
lost everything they have and come to live with me while they looks for a new 

Several antivirus software companies have warned of e-mail "hurricane news 
updates" that lure users to Web sites capable of infecting computers with a 
virus that allows hackers to gain control of their machines. And numerous 
swindlers have seeded the Internet with e-mail "phishing" messages that say 
they are from real relief agencies, taking recipients to what appear to be 
legitimate Web sites, where credit card information is collected from unwitting 
victims who think they are donating to hurricane relief.

On Sunday, the Internet security company Websense issued an alert regarding a 
phishing campaign that lured users to a Web site in Brazil that was made to 
look like a page operated by the Red Cross. Users who submitted their credit 
card numbers, expiration dates and personal identification numbers via the Web 
form were then redirected to the legitimate Red Cross Web site, making the ruse 
difficult to detect. The security company Sophos warned of a similar phishing 
campaign on Monday. 

"They're tugging at people's heartstrings," said Tom Mazur, a spokesman for the 
United States Secret Service. Mr. Mazur said there were "a number of instances 
that we're looking into with this type of fraud, both domestically and 
overseas," but he would not provide specifics. 

The lawsuit filed in Florida last Friday accused Robert E. Moneyhan, a 
51-year-old resident of Yulee, Fla., of registering several Katrina-related 
domain names - including KatrinaHelp.com, KatrinaDonations.com, 
KatrinaRelief.com and KatrinaReliefFund.com - as early as Aug. 28, even before 
the hurricane had hit the Louisiana coast. 

By Aug. 31, according to the Florida attorney general, Charles J. Crist Jr., 
Mr. Moneyhan's sites had begun asking visitors to "share your good fortune with 
Hurricane Katrina's victims." A "Donate" button then took payments through a 
PayPal account that Mr. Moneyhan had set up. 

Mr. Moneyhan did not respond to numerous phone calls and e-mail messages, but 
the Web site names in question are now owned by ProjectCare.com, a loose 
collection of Web sites that is using the Katrina sites as an information 
center for hurricane victims. 

Kevin Caruso, the proprietor of ProjectCare.com, said that he had offered to 
buy the sites from Mr. Moneyhan on Sept. 2, but that Mr. Moneyhan, distressed 
over the lawsuit, simply donated them to Project Care without charge. Mr. 
Caruso also said that after several phone conversations, he believed that Mr. 
Moneyhan, was "trying to help the Hurricane Katrina survivors, but did not have 
the experience to proceed properly." 

The lawsuit, however, states that Mr. Moneyhan had tried to sell his collection 
of Katrina-related domain names on Sept. 1 "to the highest bidder." The suit 
seeks $10,000 in civil penalties and restitution for any consumers who might 
have donated to the Web sites while they were controlled by Mr. Moneyhan.

Jay Nixon, the Missouri attorney general, sued to shut one of the more bizarre 
fund-raising efforts yesterday. A state circuit court granted a temporary 
restraining order against Internet Donations Inc., the entity behind a dozen 
Web sites erected over the last several days purporting to collect donations 
for victims of Hurricane Katrina. 

Also named in the Missouri suit, which seeks monetary penalties from the 
defendants, is the apparent operator of the donation sites, Frank Weltner, a 
St. Louis resident and radio talk show personality who operates a Web site 
called JewWatch.com.

That site - which indexes Adolf Hitler's writings, transcripts of anti-Semitic 
radio broadcasts and other materials, according to the Anti-Defamation League - 
attracted headlines last year when it appeared at or near the top of Google 
search results for the query "Jew." It remains the No. 2 search result today.

Most of Mr. Weltner's Katrina-related Web sites - which include 
KatrinaFamilies.com, Katrina-Donations.com, and NewOrleansCharities.com - 
appear to have been registered using DomainsByProxy.com, which masks the 
identity of a domain registrant.

However, Mr. Weltner's name appeared on public documents obtained through the 
Web site of the Missouri secretary of state yesterday. Those indicated that Mr. 
Weltner had incorporated Internet Donations as a nonprofit entity last Friday. 

The various Web sites, which use similar imagery and slight variations on the 
same crude design, all point back to InternetDonations.org. There, visitors 
interested in donating to the Red Cross, Salvation Army or other relief 
organizations are told that "we can collect it for you in an easy one-stop 

It is unclear whether any of the sites successfully drew funds from any donors, 
or if Mr. Weltner, who did not respond to e-mail messages and could not be 
reached by phone, had channeled any proceeds to the better-known charities 
named on his site. But the restraining order issued yesterday enjoins Mr. 
Weltner and Internet Donations Inc. from, among other things, charitable 
fund-raising in Missouri, and "concealing, suppressing or omitting" the fact 
that donations collected were intended "for white victims only." 

"It's the lowest of the low when someone solicits funds" this way, Mr. Nixon 
said in an interview before announcing the lawsuit. "We don't want one more 
penny from well-meaning donors going through this hater." 

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