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FBI Warns About Marathon-Bombing Charity Frauds
WASHINGTON (4/30/13)--The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning that individuals may be using the Boston Marathon bombing to generate fraud through e-mails and social networking sites or to gain access to computers through malicious software.

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center says a spam e-mail with the subject line "Boston Marathon Explosion" and similar messages attempt to lure potential victims to malicious software or websites that trick the victim into taking actions that put their computer at risk for infection. Some links go to compromised websites and pop-up messages that prompt users to download software to view pictures, videos or other files.

Criminals also have taken to social media to solicit donations. One account on a popular social media service used the Boston Marathon name and official logo created after the April 15 explosions and said it would donate $1 to victims for every communication sent to the account. The account was suspended, but others may crop up, said the FBI.

The FBI also pointed out a number of "questionable domains" were registered within hours of the explosions.  Their intent is unknown, but the agency said unknown domains  for fraudulent purposes typically emerge after disasters to gain victims' personal identification information.

Here's what credit unions can tell their members:

  • Do not agree to download software to view content.  They can infect the computer with malware.
  • Do not follow a link received via e-mail to go to a website.  Links appearing as legitimate site, such as fbi.gov, could be hyperlinked to direct victims elsewhere when clicked. The sites may infect a computer or solicit personal information.
  • Verify the existence and legitimacy of organizations by researching and visiting the official websites. Be skeptical of charity names similar to but not the same as reputable charities.
  • Do not allow others to make donations on your behalf. Donation-themed messages may contain links to websites designed to solicit personal information that can be routed to a cybercriminal.
  • Make donations securely--use a debit/credit card or write a check made out to the specific charity.  Be wary of donating through money transfer services. Legitimate charities normally do not solicit donations via money transfers.
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