Don’t fall for Japanese Tsunami charity scams

British Red CrossAs we’ve seen on far too many occasions before, scammers think nothing of capitalising off human misery. And the disaster which has struck Japan in the last few days is no different in that regard.

reader Andrew got in touch, to share with us an email he had received:

The email pretends to come from the British Red Cross, using the subject line “Japan Tsunami Appeal | British Red Cross” and what appears to be a legitimate British Red Cross email address.

But it asks you to send money – via MoneyBookers – to a rather shady-looking personal Yahoo email address.

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Scam email

It’s not exactly likely that the Red Cross are accepting donations in this way, is it? You’re much better off visiting the British Red Cross’s official website if you wish to help the people of Japan recover from the terrifying earthquake and tsunami which has hit their country.

Everybody is stunned by the news reports, personal stories and pictures that have come from Japan. But it’s important for those of us not directly impacted not to lose our common sense.

That means:

* Taking care when searching for news about the disaster. Hackers often poison search engine results to exploit breaking news, in order to spread malware. Visit legitimate news websites only if you want to keep up-to-date on developing news stories.

* Making sure to donate via legitimate charity websites. In the past, scammers have often take advantage of a natural disaster. This not only benefits criminals, but deprives the people who need financial support the most from receiving charitable donations.

* Being cautious of links which offer you dramatic video footage of a news story. Malicious hackers and scammers know that the public finds it hard to resist clicking on such links and can plant malware and scams at the end of them.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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