Phishers look to profit
from Katrina

6 Sep 2005

A new phishing attack that asks people for donations to support the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina is being reported.

The spoofed email is written in HTML and claims to represent the Red Cross. The email also sports the Verisign ‘Secure Site’ to give it a veneer of authenticity. Upon clicking the link provided within the email, the user is directed to a fraudulent website that is hosted in Brazil. The user’s credit card, expiry date and PIN are requested through an online form and, once entered, the user is then redirected to the real Red Cross website.

The phishing email body reads as follows: “Victims of Hurricane Katrina are attempting to recover from the massive storm. American Red Cross volunteers have been deployed to the hardest hit areas of Katrina’s destruction, supplying hundreds of thousands victims left homeless with critical necessities. By making a financial gift to Hurricane 2005 Relief, the Red Cross can provide shelter, food, counselling and other assistance to those in need.”

The phishing scam appears not to be an isolated one. Since the hurricane crashed into the Gulf coast of the US a week ago, a number of charity websites of dubious origin has been registered and Katrina-related domains are even being auctioned on eBay with the seller promising to give a slice of the ticket price to Katrina relief.

The mushrooming of phishing sites after a disaster appears to be an accelerating trend. The same happened after the tsunami disaster at the beginning of the year and computer industry experts regularly scout the internet following a natural or man-made disaster in order to find evidence of new scams.

By Brian Skelly