Katrina's Newest Victims: Relief Donors

September 12, 2005--Posted at 11:09 PM CST

JONESBORO--Hurricane katrina evacuees are relying on the support of giving people to rebuild their lives, but those who give are being preyed upon, by Internet thieves.

It has been two weeks since Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast. Since that time, there have been 2300 new Web sites devoted to the hurricane relief effort. The F.B.I. believes that nearly 60% of these are fraudulent.

The Internet is a 'Superhighway' of electronic transactions with an estimated $1 Billion changing hands each day. Keeping the Internet safe from electronic thieves is difficult because you can't see who is at the other end.

Natural disasters like Katrina make people want to help those in need. They open their pocketbooks, and that opens the doors for thieves.

"Unfortunately, there are those who are not needy, but greedy," said Craig Greenham, Captian of the Jonesboro Salvation Army.

In one case, a man in Florida created an email account posing as the Salvation Army. Greenham says his organization does not openly ask donors for access to their financial accounts.

Greenham said, "We don't try to get people to give us their personal information; their credit card numbers, their debit card numbers or anything like that. We don't reach out like that."

The Web site www.katrinehelp.com has been tagged by the F.B.B. as 'fraudulent'. Web sites asking for money have sprouted up in all corners of the globe, from eastern Europe to Asia.

The F.B.I. suggest online donors look for secure identifiers on Web sites. Most Web sites run software called Verisign, which is used for online banking . On other secure Web sites, you will see the word secure in the address line.

"We have www.salvationarmyusa.org . If people want to donate to the Salvation Army, that is where they need to go. Anybody else is probably pulling a scam," said Greenham.

For a complete list of fraudulent Web sites, log onto www.scambusters.org .