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The Hidden Evil of Natural Disasters!! (How insensitive people really are)

Updated on May 6, 2017

Natural disasters have always caused a raise in the amount crime in the area in which the disaster took place. These crimes are normally generated around fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, among other crimes. Since the birth of the internet this has allowed for these types of crimes to happen more common. The main focus that I would like to talk about today is the development of crime in New Orleans, following the event of hurricane Katrina. First I will talk about the various Internet scams that were developed following hurricane Katrina and then I will talk about the various Internet fraud and identity fraud that have been developed.

There were about 11 different Internet scams that were developed following hurricane Katrina. Phishing scams, virus and Trojans, Nigerian scams, investment and security scams, misleading emails, request for individual donations, hate sites, chain letters, schemers posing as government officials, contractor’s scams, and of course free based scams. I will cover each of these in detail in the following article.

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Phishing Scams: These sites advertise that they would like a charitable donations, but in fact, they steal financial information and that may be used for identity theft as well. Contributions, of course, go into the pockets of the scammers rather than to help people who desperately need it. They typically ask for small donation’s and with enough people can make a lot of money, and the donator has no idea that the money never went toward the helping of disaster victims.

Viruses and Trojans: Spam is sent that includes photos of disaster areas or individual survivors and these attachments contain computer viruses. These can be such viruses that will allow full access to your PC, by attacking your computer when you open it.



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Variants of the Nigerian fee scam: unsolicited email (spam) is sent with the purpose to convince you that their is large amounts of money tied up in areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Basically what happens is you receive an anonymous email stating that if you send them $3000 dollars they will be able to locate their money that was trapped in their home and then they will send you back $6000 dollars for your troubles. The whole thing is a scam.

Investment and security scams: Many small businesses would go online and report that they had damage to their business, well the claim was false. Insurance companies were too busy to look into small claims so they would just issue the checks.

Misleading emails trying to take advantage of the disaster to sell unrelated products: Companies would send out emails stating facts about hurricane Katrina, and in this email it would have a link to read more, this link then would take you to the company’s website.

Google Images
Google Images | Source

Requests for individual donations to help their family members: This is a very basic scam, the schemer would send an email, using one of a few different names in the email, and they would ask for a small donation to help their family rebuild. They will often ask for a check, thatay they can get all your bank information and can drain money from that account.

Hate Websites: Sadly these sites were developed to talk about the storms as being god’s way of thinning the herd. That god wasallowing the strong to survive and then the site would ask for donations for their work or for furthering god’s message.

Scammers posing as officials from government agencies: These schemers are claiming they will help victims in some way, like helping file insurance claims or saving their finances and belongings by relocating them. However, the goal of these scams is to steal bank, credit card, and/or other personal information in order to steal money and sometimes commit identity theft.

Contractor scams: Contractors or people pretending to be contractors are asking for money up front to do repair work and then not showing up to do the work. Scamming people out of money and then leaving them with no money to hire an honest person to do the work.

Fee-based spam: These are very simple scam. Emails were sent out to ask for a fee to help you contact and find family members that suffered in hurricane Katrina. They often took the fee and closed the site or canceled email account after a few days.

Identity Theft: There are five major reasons’ to steal people’s identities. The five categories are Assumption of identities, Theft for employment or border entry, criminal record, virtual identity, and credit or financial theft. People in New Orleans were looking at obituaries or searching the missing people list and then reporting in as the missing person, they would then state everything was destroyed in the storm, and begin life as that person. Some families that lost loved one’s would even continue to report as that person, if they were receiving checks, for disability or unemployment.

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There are many different ways to figure out Internet scams, and to find criminals acting under internet alias. Many of these stings include acting as an underage girl to lure child molesters in and bust them in the act, creating false child porn sites to entice criminal behavior. Law enforcement will also do a random sweep of tax information to see who is claiming what in a certain area that is to have a high amount of immigrants.

There have also been cases were law enforcement would respond to these false scamming emails or insurance claims and ask for a little more information to keep the path of communication open in hopes of finding an IP address. This is so that Law enforcement officials can find where the scams originator were located.

A San Diego man has been charged with hacking into a computer system at the University of Southern California and accessing confidential information submitted by students applying to the school. Eric McCarty, 25, was named in a criminal complaint that was unsealed yesterday charging him with knowingly having transmitted a code or command to intentionally cause damage to USC's on-line application system

The applicant website, which exists for persons applying for admission to the university, requires the use of a login username and password, and allows a user to apply or modify an existing application to the school. Information for more than 275,000 applicants from 1997 through the present is stored within a sequel database, and includes data such as social security numbers and birth dates.

A subsequent investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation led to McCarty through the Internet protocol number on his home computer. McCarty is scheduled to make his initial appearance in United States District Court in Los Angeles on April 28. If he is convicted of the computer intrusion charge alleged in the complaint, McCarty would face a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

As you can see from the case above, there are many different ways to find these hackers and computer attackers. Scams have been going on for centuries, but there are ways to find out if they are in fact real cases or false, and in the event of a disaster, crime rate rises by a large amount. The best way I believe to handle scams and not be taken advantage of is byusing common sense. Never respond to an email request for a donation, there is almost a 100% chance that it is a scam.Check to make sure any charity is legitimate before contributing. Never open attachments or even emails for that matter from someone that you don’t know.

Finally the best way to catch these criminals is by always trying to stay one step ahead, essentially try and scam them back by keeping in contact lure them in by enticing them and find out where they are located and who the operator is.

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    • Hiddenvalue profile imageAUTHOR

      Hiddenvalue 

      7 years ago from Portland Oregon

      We are a dying breed it would seem, there is still good out there, its just very blanketed these days. After the tornado's in Alabama, there were reports of looters!! It's sad

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 

      7 years ago

      That's scary. It's hard to believe that people would be so awful as to scam people using something as awful as a hurricane. What happened to all the good, honest people?

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