Online scam artists try to capitalize on disaster in the Philippines

Typhoon Scams

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Amanda Schultz spent most of her work day fielding calls from concerned clients and friends.  They received an e-mail from what appeared to be Schultz's professional account, saying she was stranded in the Philippines and needed money wired to her as soon as possible.

"It had my signature at the bottom so it looked like it came from me, so there was no way to tell any different," Schultz said.

But there was a red flag that came just days earlier, an email from what appeared to be her provider, Yahoo. 

"Yahoo e-mailed me telling me I had to update my password and it looked totally legit," Schultz said.

Law enforcement officials say it's a common scam, and warn never to respond to e-mails with your personal information without checking the source. 

"Contact Yahoo and verify if that account is an accurate account and it's a live account," said Deputy Julio Oseguera of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.  

As for receiving e-mails asking for funds to be wired internationally, don't be quick to hit 'reply.' 

"Try to save that e-mail and contact your local law enforcement to investigate that. But unfortunately a lot of times when you exchange funds, your money, and it goes out of the country it's hard to track," Oseguera said.

If your e-mail account is compromised you're urged to delete it and make sure your new passwords are completely unique. Schultz is following that advice but remains rattled someone would prey on the disaster in the Philippines as a hook to get money. 

"People are trying everything they can do to scam money from other people, and when they use horrible tragedies it's just awful," Schultz said. 

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