Alerts E-Threats

Fake Donation Requests for Victims of the Typhoon in Philippines

Would you like to help victims of the recent typhoon that devastated the Philippines? Well, don’t do it via e-mails or directly to people who may be only posing as social workers or Red Cross Philippines reps.

Some may consider lending a hand to help people in Philippines get back on their feet. Spammers anticipated precisely this kind of warm-hearted wishes in a recent scam campaign of false donations.

They send out messages asking people to make small contributions so aid victims receive proper care and hope recipients see the message, contact the sender via e-mail and send money directly to a scammer’s account. Some e-mails also include links to phishing forms.

Fig. 1 Scam e-mail asking users for donations in the name of Filipino victims

Aiming at people’s generosity, these bogus e-mails look as if sent by Red Cross representatives. But the contact names are bogus – the signatures in the e-mails contain “borrowed” names of movie actors and actresses.

Another group of spammers is leading a Nigerian-type scam campaign. One message is allegedly sent by a victim of the typhoon. A 26-year-old man lost his parents and wants to emigrate to the recipient’s country but needs money for the trip. If the user accepts to be the legal guardian of the â”victim” and to send money, she/he gets a part of his fortune because his parents are, of course, rich.


Fig. 2 Spam e-mail running a Nigerian-type scam

So, when you receive such e-mails in your inbox, avoid clicking links, providing identification data, e-mail addresses or credit card information.

If you want to make a donation to the real victims, use the official International Committee of the Red Cross website and for details contact only the persons listed on the page dedicated to the Philippines.

This article is based on the spam samples provided courtesy of Adrian MIRON, Bitdefender Spam Researcher.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author


A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.