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Japan Tsunami and Earthquake: Avoid being scammed!

On Friday, March 11, 2011.  Japan was hit by one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. The magnitude was enormous at 8.9 and triggered a deadly tsunami that decimated Japan’s east coast, leaving a massive devastation – many are missing or injured and thousands of people are dead.

The disaster recovery efforts have only just begun and the crisis could be the most costly earthquake in history.

Legitimate campaigns outreaching for charitable donations on platforms such as Facebook, have allowed users to donate to the US Red Cross, amongst others, and are already in place, just days after the catastrophe.  However good deeds are always compromised, and, in fact, there were scam e-mails, twitter links and websites appearing on the internet, even before the official (and real donation sites) were up and running. The issue was so serious, even early on that the US-Cert (United States Emergency Readiness Team) released a warning on March 14th, 2011, “Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Email Scams, Fake Antivirus and Phishing Attack Warning” to help steer people clear of the problem.

The warning indicates that websites and phishing emails requesting fraudulent donations for charitable organizations commonly appear after these types of natural disasters. For example, immediately following the Haiti Earthquake in 2010,  scam e-mails began appearing on the internet within days of earthquake. According to BBC News, “Some scam emails had what looked like logos from genuine charities. One said it was from the British Red Cross, but was traced to a computer in Nigeria; another used the UNICEF logo, but was nothing to do with them.”

Here are a few current examples of spam emails spotted by SPAMfighter exploiting the Japan Earthquake that are either fake charity spam or spam emails offering unseen photo’s, video, etc. that are bogus:

  • help for japan 8.9 earthquake!
  • Fw: Japan Earthquake  – News Alert #1
  • Prices go down for taddy! 75% off earthquake Hopewell Constitution
  • EARTHQUAKE HELP
  • 8.8 Quake Japan
  • Tsunami
  • [LetUsPray] Additional Prayer for Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami victim

US-Cert recommends doing the following to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of email scams:

  • Filter spam.
  • Don’t trust unsolicited email.
  • Don’t click links in email messages
  • Treat email attachments with caution.
  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date.
  • Install a personal firewall and keep it up to date.
  • Configure your email client for security.

In addition, if you have any concerns about a request for donations that are coming from a charity, you can verify to see if the Charity is valid by: contacting the charity directly and asking for their registration number.  You can validate the Charity is publicly registered with www.charitycommission.gov.uk in the UK and via the IRS website in the US. Most local jurisdictions have such information publicly searchable (please tell us in the comments about a local version of such information in your area, and we’ll add it to the article.)

Legitimate sites that will allow you to help Japan Earthquake victims

Donate via Facebook

The US Red Cross has launched a campaign to help raise awareness and donations for their relief efforts. By registering on Facebook, you can donate anywhere from $ 10 to $ 500 to help tsunami victims and their families.

At the time of us publishing this article, they’ve raised over $58,000.

Donate via Google

Donate directly to Japanese Red Cross Society Unicef or Save The Children via Google Check out

Help via Twitter

Use your Twitter account to do something good for the people of Japan.

Twitter published a special blog post detailing how to help with the relief efforts.

If you want to follow/tweet what’s happening in Japan, twitter published a list of hash tags:

  • #Joshing: focuses around general earthquake information
  • #Anpi: a hashtag for the confirmation of the safety of individuals or places
  • #Hinan: Evacuation information
  • #311care: a hashtag regarding medical information for the victims
  • #PrayforJapan: A general hashtag for support and best wishes for victims of the crisis

Other hashtags are promoted via twitter users for specific purposes, you can click on a hashtag in either you favourite twitter client, or on the twitter website to see a live search of tweets using the tag.

Donate via iTunes

Apple is also devoting resources to the crisis in Japan. They have created a donation page on iTunes [iTunes link] that makes it easy to donate anywhere between $ 5 and $ 200 for the US Red Cross with a few mouse clicks directly from your iTunes account.

If you know other ways to support/donate the Japanese people, please comment below. Also please let us know if you come across any email scams in effort to collect bogus donations for fake charities.

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About Patrick T. Rasmussen

doing Online Marketing for SPAMfighter. Follow me on Google+ (+Patrick Teglstrup Rasmussen), Twitter (Patrick Teglstrup Rasmussen on Twitter)
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