Scam of the day – June 7, 2013 – Sandy Hook Elementary School charity scam

It is a sad state of affairs that immediately after the murderous rampage by Adam Lanza in which he killed twenty-six people including twenty children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, I had to warn you about the charity scams that would be immediately turning up to prey upon your generosity and desire to help the victims.  Unfortunately, I was right and phony charities turned up within hours stealing money from people who were just trying to help the families of the victims.  It is indeed contemptible that after any tragedy whether it be a natural tragedy such as the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma or unnatural, such as the shootings in Newtown, scammers turn up to take advantage of the best intentions of us in order to steal our money by appealing to our charitable intentions.  Recently, Nouel Alba, a New York woman was indicted for a scam in which the Bronx District Attorney says she posted pictures of one of the victims, Noah Pozner, claiming she was his aunt and that she needed money to help pay for his funeral.  Nouel Alba is no relation to Pozner.

TIPS

To make sure that your charitable donations are going to where they can do the most good, make sure that any charity you wish to donate to is legitimate.  You can do this by going to www.charitynavigator.org and learn not just if the charity is a scam, but also how much of donations to the particular charity is spent on salaries and administrative expenses rather than going to the charitable purposes of the charity.  If you are contacted by phone, email or text message from a charity, you can never be sure that the person contacting you is legitimate even if he or she uses the name of a legitimate charity.  In that case, if you are charitably inclined, your best course of action is to contact the charity directly by phone or at an email address that you know is accurate to make your donation.

Scam of the day – December 15, 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting identity theft threat

Yesterday’s horrible news of the tremendous loss of life as a result of the actions of  deranged gunman Adam Lanza killing adults and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is, unfortunately, just the type of story that often leads to people becoming victims of identity theft.  As some people search for information to help them better understand what happened while others scour media for exclusive photographs or videos of the events out of a macabre curiosity, both groups of people can become easy victims of identity theft schemes quickly constructed by media savvy identity thieves who will use all forms of media from text messages, emails, social media postings and search engine directed phony websites to entice people to click on links contained within these various forms of communication that will purport to provide information, photographs or videos about the shootings, but instead will only result in the people who click on these links unknowingly downloading dangerous keystroke logging malware that can read all of the information contained on the computers of those people clicking on the tainted links.  The information stolen in this manner can include passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and other information that will lead to the identity theft of these people.

TIPS

First and foremost, it is important to have good firewalls and security software installed and kept up to date on all of your electronic devices including your computers, smart phones, iPads and other portable devices that you use.  Many people may think to protect their home computers, but fail to protect their portable devices even though they may use these devices as much and even more than their home computers.  Second, you should not click on any link unless you are sure that it is legitimate and even if the link is contained in what appears to be a text message or social media posting of a friend, you can’t be sure that your friend has not had his or her account hacked into by an identity thief in order to make you more trusting than you should be of the message being sent.  Additionally, even if you receive a test, email or social media posting that actually is from a friend of yours, it may merely be passing on to you a tainted link that your friend does not realize they are helping to spread after receiving it themselves from a source that they should not have trusted.  Frankly, the safest course of action is not to click on any links from anyone that try to appeal to your curiosity about major public events such as this, but rather limit your search for information to legitimate news websites that you can be confident are not likely to contain tainted or inaccurate information.  As for those people who lust after disturbing videos and photographs that they think they will only be able to access from “special” sources, those special sources are usually phony as are the videos and photographs that they provide, however, the malware that you get from them is very real and dangerous.