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E-mail Tries to Exploit Benefactors of Wildfire Victims

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned on November 3, 2007 that an e-mail scam was being run on the Internet that asks for charitable funds to support people and families who are victims to the recent wildfire in Southern California.

The deceptive e-mail contains a portion of the actual speech that a California Assembly member delivered on the wildfires.

It entreats recipients to follow a link that supposedly opens to the IRS Website. Users who get there are then requested for donations. The phony Website also shows a link that presents a donation form, which asks for the recipient's financial and personal information.

While cautioning people, IRS' Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support, Richard Spires, said users should not put all their trust on unsolicited e-mails and be careful with e-mails that arrive from unknown senders. Info Zine published this in news on November 3, 2007. Users should verify the legitimacy of unsolicited e-mails before viewing an attachment or pressing 'enter' on a link, Spires added.

The e-mail scam is truly unworthy and deserves censure, said Michelle Lamishaw, spokeswoman for IRS on November 2, 2007. EarthTimes published this on November 3, 2007. This is simply an exploitation of the tragedy-stricken victims of the calamity and also manipulation of the sentiments of people wanting to offer help, Lamishaw remarked.

The recent California fires had caused 14 deaths and destroyed nearly 1,600 homes by burning over 508,000 acres of land, CNN reported.

The IRS said it never solicits charitable donations. It is sure that the e-mail claiming to help some people is a phishing message that makes fraudulent attempts to cash on unsuspecting users' credit cards. The fake site may be also hosting malicious software in order to capture victims' passwords and their confidential details.

In a warning to recipients, the IRS has asked those who may have clicked any link in the e-mail to check their computers for malware. Along with that, they need to keep a watch on their bank and credit card accounts for any suspicious activity and report detection to concerned authorities. Finally recipients should forward those e-mails to phishing@irs.gov.

Related article: E-Crime Reporting Format To Be Launched in July

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