FBI Warns of E-mail Relief Scams Following Hurricane Gustav

"We cannot allow the kindness of Americans to be exploited in times of crisis."  

by / September 4, 2008

Recent history, including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan; the tsunamis in Asia; and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has shown that some criminals seek to profit from disaster by means of fraud. The FBI asks that individuals beware of e-mails claiming to seek donations for Hurricane Gustav relief efforts. The FBI will be checking for fraudulent websites and e-mails and will thoroughly investigate all complaints.

Everyone should consider the following:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to recognized organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and expose you to identity theft.

"People that want to donate to the victims should do so, but should make sure the donation goes to a legitimate charity. We cannot allow the kindness of Americans to be exploited in times of crisis," said Special Agent Richard Kolko, chief of the National Press Office. "We want to help ensure that the money and support so generously offered reaches the intended recipients -- the victims of Hurricane Gustav -- and that people who donate do not themselves become victims."

To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI website and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint. For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI's New E-Scams and Warnings webpage.