In the aftermath of disasters, relief agencies appeal to citizens for monetary donations to aid those in devastated areas. But the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also appealing to citizens to beware of scams from fraudulent groups that seek only to make a profit for themselves.
"Recent history, including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan; the tsunamis in Asia; and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has shown that some criminals seek to profit from disaster by means of fraud," a Sept. 3 press release from the BBB of Southeast Texas states.
"The BBB and the FBI ask that individuals beware of e-mails claiming to seek donations for Hurricane Gustav relief efforts. The BBB and FBI will be checking for fraudulent websites and e-mails and will thoroughly investigate all complaints," the statement added.
The BBB makes the following suggestions to protect citizens:
"Before making a donation, make sure it goes to a legitimate charity," said Michael Clayton, president/CEO of the BBB in Southeast Texas. "Southeast Texans can be very kind, but we don't want them to be exploited in times of crisis. The BBB wants to help make sure that the money and support reaches the intended recipients (the victims of Hurricane Gustav) and that people who donate do not become victims themselves."
To receive the latest information about cyber-scams, please go to www.fbi.gov 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 at www.ic3.gov. For more information on e-scams and to investigate a charity, visit www.bbb.org.
In Southeast Texas, call 409-835-5348 or 800-685-7650.