[img]http://www.sermonindex.net/images/forum/2004/may/featured_news.gif[/img]On eBay, sellers are hawking Pez dispensers, a gold necklace, a stuffed mouse, and a "hand-carved" Buddha statue with the promise that proceeds from the auctions will go directly to charities assisting the victims of the tsunami in Asia.Visitors to tsunamireliefaid.com are directed to a crudely constructed Web site with photographs of those who appear to be tsunami victims and instructions urging users to send relief packages and $10 checks to a P.O. box in Germantown, Md.As major aid agencies around the globe undertake what could be the costliest and most complex relief effort ever, the catastrophe in South Asia has also given rise to hundreds of newly born charities purporting to raise money for victims.While the federal government has made attempts to crack down on charity fraud since September 11, 2001 - the Patriot Act increased the penalty of impersonating a Red Cross member to five years from one - and Internet users have become more savvy, phony charities are trying harder than ever to swindle donors on the Internet.Many of these charities are anonymous and don't have the imprimatur of philanthropic associations. It's unclear if the fund-raisers mentioned above are legitimate. But according to those familiar with online fraud, people looking to donate to the tsunami victims ought to be extra wary of unfamiliar Internet sites and individuals collecting money or goods.
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
Fraudulent Charities Use Tsunami Pleas To Prey on Donors