Cops: Hopeful burglars urged people to flee Irene
The suspects were arrested. But the fact is, you don't need to live on the East Coast to become the victim of hurricane scams.
Two would-be burglars posing as city corrections officers went door to door in a low-lying area of New York City on Saturday and asked people if they planned to evacuate before Hurricane Irene arrived, according to news reports.
If people fled, police said, the couple intended to revisit the vacant homes. They had a badge, handcuffs and a gravity knife, the New York Post said. They were arrested after suspicious residents called police.
The New York Daily News said the man had been fired by the city department of correction. It also said that he and his female friend were actually urging people to evacuate. The area of the city was South Beach on Staten Island, near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk.
What's creepier than trying to take advantage of other people's misery? But whenever there's a disaster, there are scammers ready to pounce. Mike Lennon identified potential online scams in a post at SecurityWeek:
- Facebook scams. "Users should be cautious of links promising remarkably interesting photos, videos and other information about Hurricane Irene," Lennon says. You could be redirected to another site where you'll be instructed to provide personal information or click on links that will expose your computer to malware. One Facebook scam advertises "VIDEO SHOCK -- Hurricane Irene New York kills All," says TrendLabs' Malware Blog.
- Charity scams. Plenty of crooks will set up websites soliciting donations for victims of the storm. Solution: Give only to trusted charities (and only after verifying that any charity that contacts you is legit). The Federal Trade Commission has more information about that. Lennon says, "Other scams could include 'people search' scams offering to find loved ones for a fee."
- Search scams. He also recommends that you get your Irene news from reputable online news providers, rather than doing a blind search. "Cybercriminals have already been at work to 'poison' common search results hoping to gain access to people's computers and infect them with malware," Lennon writes.
Finally, there's another type of scammer who might knock on your door. Plenty of rip-off artists flock to damaged neighborhoods promising quality repair at reasonable prices. The FTC has tips on how to select a qualified, reputable contractor to perform the work.
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