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Online Donations, Scams Rise in Katrina's Wake

With many Americans turning to the web for information and ways to help in the disastrous wake of Hurricane Katrina, the medium is once again reflecting the good and the bad of human nature, writes E-Commerce Times. As of Friday, $110 million had been received in online donations, out of a $197 million of public support, according to a Red Cross spokeswoman. Meanwhile, computer security experts warned that online scammers have already launched phishing attacks and other scams targeting the altruistic response to assist hurricane victims.

According to some analysts, many of those going online to donate or read about the disaster are likely web newbies, with their donations constituting the first foray into e-commerce. Scams targeting such users could result in a negative experience and help slow e-commerce growth.

The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau have issued consumer warnings, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has received complaints about some websites set up to ostensibly aid victims of Katrina but actually intended for stealing credit card numbers and other personal information, and eBay said it had terminated several auctions of Katrina-related domain names earlier this week.

Computer security firm Sophos also warned of an email containing news stories about the disaster, but links in the email take users to a site that attempts to load virus code onto a user's computer. Once infected, a computer can be controlled remotely as a zombie and used to launch spam attacks, for example.


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