Beware of El Paso, Dayton Charity-Related Scams, CISA Warns

Where disaster strikes, charity scams follow.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency issued a warning that scammers may try to make money off the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, through fraudulent charities and malware campaigns. 

Anyone considering making a donation or handling emails that mention the shootings should use caution—even when it appears to be from a trusted source, the alert said.The links may direct users to websites to capture their personal information or spread malware.

“Emails requesting donations from duplicitous charitable organizations are also common after tragic events. Be wary of fraudulent social media pleas, calls, texts, donation websites, and door-to-door solicitations relating to these events,” the alert states. 

CISA recommends avoiding any attachments or links in unsolicited email, reviewing its guides on email security, phishing and social networks, and checking out the Federal Trade Commission’s tips on avoiding dubious charities. Most of the advice boils down this: Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you out of the blue—whether by email, phone or in-person—and verify a person or organization is who they say they are before giving any personal or financial information. 

Scammers often try to capitalize on recent tragedies and annual events. In the past year, CISA issued an alert after the New Zealand mosque shooting in Christchurch, multiple warnings about tax filing-related fraud, and a blanket warning about hurricane-recovery scams for the new season.