The Malaysia Airlines tragedy is again proving disaster brings out the best and worst of human nature, with scammers now attempting to use it as a way to make money.
The consumer watchdog has issued a warning through its SCAMwatch website about criminals trying to cash in on the MH17 tragedy.
The SCAMwatch warning, issued on Monday afternoon, says scammers are setting up fake Facebook pages in the name of victims from flight MH17.
The Facebook pages direct people to a blog that says it has information on flight MH17, and when the user clicks on the link to the blog they are subject to a series of pop-up advertisements.
If the user clicks on the advertisement, scammers then make money from the ‘click-through’ by driving potential customers to a business’s website.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) runs the SCAMwatch website, and is urging people to only use reliable news sources and to be particularly wary of links posted on social networking sites.
Malware, charity scams also a problem
The ACCC says alternatively, the site the user is directed to may contain infected advertisements, which can cause malware to install on the user’s computer.
The scammers may have also set up malware to be downloaded when the link to the blog is clicked on.
If a scammer has infected a computer with malware, they may be able to access personal information stored on the computer, including financial details.
The ACCC is also telling people to be on the lookout for charity scams that may arise out of the flight MH17 tragedy, with scammers often using major news stories as a means to lure donations that they claim will go to helping victims.
It says the user may receive an email, come across a website, or find a blog or profile on a social media site claiming to raise money for a charity, or affected families.
“If you hand over money to the ‘charity’ or ‘fundraiser’, your money will go straight into the pockets of a scammer and the victims will never receive a cent,” the ACCC said.
Last week, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) told consumers potential donors should be wary of for-profit companies imitating charities.
The ACNC says it has been made aware of several for-profit companies with names similar to the names of well-known charities, soliciting donations from the public.
There are more than 60,000 registered charities in Australia and all are required to report to the ACNC and meet certain standards.
To find out if a charity is legitimate, you can search the ACNC register.