THE SCAM: Chinese earthquake
HOW IT WORKS: Every huge disaster of the past few years has brought with it common elements: tales of sorrow, requests for help and scam attempts. The huge earthquake that rattled central China earlier this month is no exception, with the FBI warning of e-mails claiming to be requests for help for earthquake victims. Similar e-mails circulated after Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina. These e-mails often have official-looking logos from charitable organizations, and may offer vacations to the largest donors. But neither the logos nor the vacations are legitimate. Such e-mails often will ask for account numbers, credit card numbers or direct deposits of cash. In all cases, the information or money is going into the wrong hands.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: Your money, your identity or both
HOW TO BEAT IT: Several charitable organizations, including the Red Cross, have ways to make donations for earthquake victims. But they don't solicit donations through e-mails, especially from people they don't know. Be cautious about any e-mails that ask for donations. If you do want to help, check the Red Cross' Web site at www.redcross.org for information on how to do so.
Contact Bee staff writer
Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2331. For past Scam Alerts, go to www.modbee.com/business/scam.