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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2005
CONTACT: Tom Berlinger or Kristen Perezluha (850) 410-7001

FDLE Warns of Hurricane Katrina E-mail Scams

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is warning citizens to beware of one of the latest e-mail phishing scams, this one using the Hurricane Katrina tragedy as a ploy to bilk people out of monetary donations or infect their computer with a virus.

Phishing scam e-mails are designed to trick the recipients into disclosing personal information such as account usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and home addresses. Most of these e-mails look official and as a result, recipients often respond to them, resulting in financial losses, identity theft, and other fraudulent activity.

Recent news reports indicate that phishing e-mails may be circulating which attempt to exploit people’s concerns for the hurricane victims by asking them to donate money to what appears, on the surface, to be a charitable relief fund.

“Similar to what we saw after the tsunami disaster, bad guys are now using this tragedy to prey on the sympathy of citizens,” said Bob Breeden, special agent supervisor for the FDLE Computer Crime Center. “Emails sent to you requesting a donation should be checked out thoroughly with the sponsoring organization before responding. Do not utilize the links contained in an e-mail requesting donations because the site you are linked to may appear legitimate when in fact it is not. I would strongly recommend only using the official Web site of known disaster assistance organizations to make an online donation.”

To find a legitimate organization to donate money to, visit www.usafreedomcorps.gov. On this site, the public can find a list of agencies accepting donations for assistance to those affected by the hurricane.

According to Sophos, an Internet security firm, another type of spam e-mail circulating is one that offers breaking news reports but tricks people into clicking a link that takes them to a bogus Web site. The site attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and install malicious code, including the Troj/Cgab-A Trojan horse, on a victim's system.

Internet fraud is just one of many computer crimes, including cyber stalking, identity theft, child pornography, viruses and worms. FDLE recognizes the need for action against computer crime and created the Florida Computer Crime Center (FC3) in October 1998 to expand FDLE's initiative to investigate computer related crime. In addition to investigations, FC3 also offers training, research and prevention.

Citizens can learn more about computer crimes, common complaints, viruses, and how to report a computer crime at www.fdle.state.fl.us/FC3. More information on phishing is available at www.secureflorida.org.

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Last updated: November 09, 2007

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