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South African Police: E-mail Scams Began Day Tsunami Hit

January 10, 2005

by Kevin Caruso

Fraudsters posing as tsunami victims are sending out e-mails worldwide in an attempt to scam unsuspecting recipients.

“More than 4 million such letters have been circulated; the first was sent out the day the disaster happened -- December 26,” said a representative form the South African Police Service.

Many variations on the scam exist, including one claiming to be from residents of a destroyed Indonesian village. Several others claim to be from groups that are helping the victims.

Recipients are told to transfer money into a bank account. “Please be aware that once the money has been sent, it will never reach the real victims of the disaster," police said in the statement.

Millions upon millions of e-mails have previously been sent out of Nigeria and other locations in which the scammers posed as royalty or wealthy individuals needing “help” to get money out of the country. They offer to share a percentage of a fortune for the “help.”

They ask for the recipients bank account number so money can be deposited into it for safe keeping; but the scammers instead plunder the account.

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