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Online fraudsters exploit Californian fire for profit.

Forcepoint : 26 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
Websense has discovered a new wave of spam e-mail designed to extract money from charitable people seeking to help disaster relief in California.
Websense has discovered suspicious online scams designed by criminals to steal money from those donating to the California fire effort. Websense also urged consumers to take steps to ensure that donations are reaching the intended recipients, and to notify officials of suspicious Web sites.

'Unfortunately, as we saw with Katrina and several other recent emergencies, there are criminals who attempt to divert monies intended for the victims by creating bogus online donation Web sites and advertising them on high-traffic Web sites,' said Dan Hubbard, vice president of security research, Websense. 'These criminals are trying to take advantage of the amazing outpouring of support locally, state-wide and internationally. Websense is aggressively monitoring domain registrations, email honeypots, and scanning the Web looking for these suspicious sites.'

Websense offers tips to consumers donating online:.

* Ensure you are dealing with legitimate organisations.
* Contact these organisations on your own - go to their Web site rather than clicking on a link in an email sent to you.
* Remember that legitimate organisations will not aggressively approach people for money and donations.
* Be mindful of groups reporting to be affiliated with legitimate organisations asking for donations or requesting you to visit their Web site. They may be fraudulent or hosting malicious code designed to steal information such as banking details.
* Be wary of online auctions that claim to support the donation effort.

Websense asks that consumers who believe a Web site is questionable contact government authorities or Websense researchers, as Websense has direct contact with federal authorities to help on the matter. To report suspicious Internet sites and emails to the government and for additional protection tips visit the Internet Crime Complaint Centre or the Federal government's consumer information centre.

As a San Diego-based company, Websense corporate headquarters was never in an evacuation area, and Websense has sustained no damage or outages as a result of the fires. Websense maintains redundant datacenters, research teams, and customer service distributed globally which reduces the risk of natural disasters' affecting the content protection services Websense provides to customers.

On Oct. 22, Websense encouraged San Diego-based employees to stay home if they were affected by the fires. On Oct. 23, Websense closed its San Diego headquarters so employees could focus on the safety and security of their families and deal with evacuations and other issues. Many employees have continued to work from home during this time. Websense continues to monitor the situation and gives employees flexibility during this difficult time.
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