Crooks have already begun capitalising on the tragic events that occurred in Orlando, in efforts to reel in and rob unsuspecting victims, who are likely sympathetic about the events that unfolded and are looking to help in any way possible. Volunteers and those desiring to help financially are being advised to use caution when making donations online.
A fake Twitter account has already been spotted and later suspended by Twitter. The account was masquerading as the official account of the nightclub - Pulse - where 50 people were murdered and many others injured in a brutal shooting rampage by the now identified gunman, Omar Mateen. In the wake of the massacre, the fake account was calling for donations to help victims by sending them bottled water and Oreo cookies.
The CEO of Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Give Alliance, H Art Taylor said: "Tragedy inspires people to give, and this terrible tragedy is drawing incredible response already from people all around the world. The best way to help the victims, their families, and the people of Orlando is to make sure that donations end up where they belong. We are already hearing about click-bait schemes and questionable solicitations, and we expect there will be numerous scams and frauds. We urge those generous donors to give wisely so their gifts can do the most good."
Holly Salmons, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Florida, added: "The world has rushed to support the City Beautiful and the victims on this heinous crime. We encourage those who want to show their support through donations to do so with caution. Scammers depend on heightened emotion and often follow closely behind tragic events."
The BBB, which provides information on accredited businesses and charities, added that it has already been notified of several such scams exploiting the Orlando shooting and has thus provided those interested in donating, with a list of dos and don'ts, in efforts to ensure that donations made go to the deserving.
By using the name of the nightclub, attaching several fake followers and also incorporating the various hashtags related to the incident, the con artists created what appeared to be a fairly legitimate looking account, which in turn helped them in attracting the attention of Twitter users following the aftermath of the shooting. The fake account redirected people to a website where they could then make online donations, Ars Technica reported.
The website linked to the fake Twitter account was found to have been connected to an older domain (desifreemovies.net), with a fake registration address in California and an email contact address affiliated with the anonymous and encrypted email service Hushmail.
This site itself appeared to be shoddily developed, with fraudulent Amazon Prime links and grammatically erroneous HTML. The site also instructed users to send donations in Bitcoin to a particular anonymous address if the links failed to "work in your area". The website has since been shut down after collecting a mere $30 or thereabout, indicating that the scam was not all that successful in duping people.