BEWARE! Hurricane Sandy-related Scams and Malware

The East Coast is slowly recovering from the havoc that Hurricane Sandy brought upon them.  Thanks to AT&T, T-Mobile, Comcast and other companies and organizations like them that are making people’s lives bearable through the ordeal by keeping lines open so they can get in touch with their friends and families.  Though there are Good Samaritans helping people rebuild their homes, relocate, find a temporary shelter or a means to eat, the sad truth is, there are also people who are just there to scam people.

The government as well as independent groups are aware that disaster related scams and malware rise just within 24 hours of the tragedy.  They warn people to be wary of people or organizations asking for donations and reminded them that malicious people will be targeting both the victims and those who want to help.

“Fraud is an unfortunate reality in post-disaster environments,” said Joe Wehrle, president of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit group which deals with vehicle sales and repairs fraud. “As the initial recovery from Hurricane Sandy begins, there are people right now who are planning to converge on the affected areas in order to scam disaster victims out of their money.”

According to Sopho’s NakedSecurity, they started noticing malicious activities on October 30.  The good news is, they weren’t spreading malware, well not yet at least, but they were trying their hardest to get personal and banking information from unsuspecting web surfers via messages with subject lines such as: “Sandy Got you down? We’ve got you covered!”, “Don’t let the storm ruin your diner plans” and “Avoid the Storm, Eat at chilis!”

The body of the e-mail contains the following:

“Sleep Better and Enjoy the Peace of Mind You Deserve!
Get up to $250,000 of Life Coverage as low as $10 Per month! Learn more.
Prices are Fixed by Law, So You Cannot Find a Better Price for the Same Product Anywhere!”

And it contains links to a site called “remain watery” whose domain was registered in October 15 – a clear anticipation of the tragedy that would occur.

If you click on the link, you’d see a message telling you that you can win an iPad, an iPhone 5 or even a Macbook.  If you click on the continue button, you will be asked for your information details then ask you which of the three you’d want to receive as a prize in case you win.


Another pop-up would inform that you can win even more prizes, like one of the colorful iPad HD.  If you’re not familiar with Apple’s product, you’d think that you’re in for a treat as you’d get to win a colorful iPad.


Then you’d be presented with more affiliate links so you can qualify for the colorful iPad giveaways.  Some people may think this is harmless but think about it, what legitimate contest would require you to divulge personal and banking information?

WARNING!

These are the Top 5 scams that people should watch out for:

Photos with malware

A lot of people are curious as to what the East Coast looks like after being hit by Hurricane Sandy and malicious authors are now spreading fake photos that directs you to a shady site when you click on it.

Illegitimate websites

Scammers are now using social media to drive people into visiting shady sites.  They would post something on their wall or share something to someone on Facebook or Twitter that contains a link and a brief description like “Relief for Hurricane Sandy Victims.”  Just like the malware-laced photos, we urge you to inspect the link first before clicking on it.

Fake charitable organizations

A lot of fake organizations that pretends to be the real thing will be taking this chance to dupe kind-hearted people into giving them cash.  Charitable organizations usually have .org at the end of their domain but shady sites usually end in .com so be very careful when clicking on questionable sites.  If you really want to donate something to charity, you can do an online research of reputable organizations and instead of giving out cash, try donating something that people could actually use like if you have extra blankets, old clothes, stuff like that and head to your community’s shelter or evacuation zone.

Contractor scams

They will be targeting the victims by offering home improvement or home rebuilding schemes that are “unbelievably low.” If you need to get your house fixed, try going to one of your local contractors first, those that are legitimate and are known to give reasonable pricing and doesn’t rip off their customers.

Insurance scams

Again, these scammers will be targeting the victims.  People vulnerable to such an attack are those that do not have insurance in their homes or cars.  They will be offering an unbelievable payment scheme, like the one mentioned above, and promises to give you $250,000 Life Coverage.

About Mellisa Tolentino

Mellisa Tolentino started at SiliconANGLE covering the mobile and social scene. Over the years, her scope expanded to Bitcoin as well as the Internet of Things. SiliconANGLE gave Mellisa her break in writing and it has been an adventure ever since. She’s from the sunny country of Philippines where people always greet you with the warmest smile. If she’s not busy writing, she loves reading, watching TV series and movies, but what she enjoys the most is playing or just chilling on the couch with with her three dogs Ceecee, Ginger, and Rocky.