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Beware of Disaster Relief and Tragedy-Related Scams

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

When unfortunate events occur that garner widespread public attention – such as natural disasters, international conflict, and other tragedies – cyber threat actors often capitalize on this interest using social engineering schemes. As the US enters the height of hurricane season with Hurricane Ida causing significant damage across the Southern and Eastern Coasts, the public may search for relevant charities hoping to provide donations to impacted individuals and businesses. In addition, the recent US military departure from Afghanistan and related humanitarian crisis has led to pleas for donations, resources, and assistance from the public. Well-intentioned individuals may be eager to help and, therefore, more likely to fall victim to various scams and social engineering schemes. These threats are often delivered via email, social media posts, and text messages, and may include fraudulent links or attachments that supposedly include information on how and where to donate or provide assistance. Additionally, a separate scheme circulating includes emails sent from individuals impersonating hospital staff and claiming that they have a patient who is in dire need of surgery and/or medical care as the result of a tragedy or disaster. Emails may include images showing evidence of their claims; however, these images are typically unrelated or doctored.

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