DHS Warns of ‘Tragedy-Related Scams’ After El Paso and Dayton Shootings

DHS Warns of ‘Tragedy-Related Scams’ After El Paso and Dayton Shootings

A Homeland Security agency and the FBI’s El Paso office are cautioning Americans to watch out for malicious "charity" emails and phone call scams.

The Department of Homeland Security is warning Americans to watch out for scams and malware campaigns related to the mass shootings last weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that killed over 30 people and injured dozens more.

The department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued the warning on Tuesday, advising users to avoid possible “malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on these tragic events.”

“Users should exercise caution in handling emails related to the shootings, even if they appear to originate from trusted sources,” the agency wrote. “Fraudulent emails often contain links or attachments that direct users to phishing or malware-infected websites.”

The statement noted that emails requesting donations from “duplicitous” charitable organizations are common after tragedies. Users should be wary not only of fraudulent emails but also social media pleas, calls, texts, websites and door-to-door solicitations related to the shootings, the agency said.

The warning came as the FBI’s El Paso office issued its own alert cautioning against “unscrupulous individuals” who may be contacting victims’ families claiming to be from a funeral home or medical examiner’s office. Despite the fact that all funeral services are being coordinated through Operation H.O.P.E. El Paso, the callers are asking for money to provide services for families’ loved ones, the FBI said.

“It’s likely a scam,” the bureau posted on Twitter. “If you receive such a call, please get as much information from the caller as possible, DO NOT give them any money, and contact the El Paso Police Department or FBI El Paso.”

Colin Bastable, the CEO of security awareness training company Lucy Security, advises Americans to treat all emails regarding the tragedy with “guarded skepticism,” particularly emails that appeal for money or ask users to sign petitions.

“By appealing to group loyalties and emotional responses such as fear and anger, hackers increase their hit rates,” Bastable said. “In that way, they are exploiting the same marketing techniques that some politicians are deploying to fundraise off the back of these and similar events.”

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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