Scammers took advantage of the recent Orlando, Fla. terrorist attack that took 49 peoples’ lives by tricking people into sending donations on behalf of the victims by setting up a fake Twitter account and urging people to donate bitcoin.
The scammers used the handle @PulseOrlandoUSA and attached the account to hashtags associated with the tragedy. They built the account’s profile by attaching thousands of phony followers to it in order to draw attention after the attack, according to ArsTechnica.
The account was closed after only raising $30 worth of bitcoin.
The Twitter account directed people to a web address to make donations. However, savvy social-media users realized the web address linked to an unrelated, six-month-old domain, desifreemovies.net, which had a fake registration address in California.
Most visitors to the site recognized it as a scam on account of grammatical errors on a plain HTML page with blatantly fake Amazon Prime links. The page indicated people should send bitcoins to a specified address if they encountered difficulty with the links.
Blockonomics, a cryptocurrency tracking site, noted the scammers only got 0.04293381 bitcoins ($30 USD) before the website was shut down.
The legitimate fund at a GoFundMe page for Pulse victims, has raised around $3.7 million for the survivors and victims’ family members. Disney World also announced that it will donate an additional $1 million to help with counseling, recovery, and funeral services. Equality Florida, the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, hosts the website.
“We encourage those who want to show their support through donations to do so with caution,” said Holly Salmons, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Florida, according to MarketWatch. “Scammers depend on heightened emotion and often follow closely behind tragic events.”
The Better Business Bureau, an organization that provides information about and accredits businesses and charities, said it has heard about “click-bait schemes and questionable solicitations” claiming to be for Orlando families.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
Last modified: July 13, 2020 3:15 AM UTC