Video: Avoiding Haiti charity scams

  1. Closed captioning of: Avoiding Haiti charity scams

    >>> an update the red cross said they have received $2 million by texted donations, when you text 90999, the word "haiti" $10 is charged to your phone bill and goes right to the red cross . they are gathering a lot of money. when disasters, good hearted people want to help. all too often there are scammers out there hoping to exploit the situation. joining me bob sullivan , a senior writer for msnbc.com and also the author of the new book, stop getting richd off. why consumers get screwed and why you can always get a fair deal . the fbi put out a warning yesterday, what are the scams already taking place.

    >> you know, contessa, two things are guaranteed when there's a disaster. america will be generous and scum bags will show up and try to exploit the situation. there are four or five things that already started to appear. there's e-mail scams. there's computer viruses being sent. be very careful about this. someone sends an e-mail, click on this picture, could be a virus, don't click on it. another thing to worry about, search engine poisoning. folks set up these fake websites and you go on google like haiti relief, donate money, they cram themselves into the search results . click on one of two of those links thinking you're donating money you'll end up with a virus on your computer or someone attacking you. really there's one overarching piece of advice. go to addresses you know, got to the browser and type in redcross.org yourself. don't click on links in e-mails or search results . do it yourself.

    >> in many cases there are e-mails going back and forth. some say my church is going here, if you want to donate to the relief effort, is there a danger in those e-mail solicitations.

    >> there is. i certainly don't want to kill anybody's spirit at times of help because that's what happens at times like this. scammers know what to insert in e-mails. it looks like they are part of a conversation. they say, i'm part of the church, too. so many people belong to these large chumpbls. one thing people won't do at normal times people are texting money. slow down and do it the old-fashioned way. call redcross.org and you'll be safe.

updated 1/13/2010 4:14:54 PM ET 2010-01-13T21:14:54

The French nonprofit Telecoms Sans Frontiers is sending two teams of responders to Haiti to help facilitate communications as rescue workers dig through the country's earthquake-battered capital.

The group's U.S. representative, Paul Margie, said a three-person team based in Nicaragua was en route to Santo Domingo, the capital of Haiti's neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Another six-person team from France was also on the way.

Margie said it is a fairly large deployment for the group, which also sent out multiple teams after a series of typhoons hit the Philippines last year.

Telecoms Sans Frontiers, or Telecommunications Without Borders, was set up just over a decade ago and has funding from the U.N. Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation as well as corporate donors.

The group's workers deploy to natural disasters and conflict zones with laptop-sized pieces of equipment that emit Wi-Fi signals for phone calls and Internet access. Margie said the group's hotspots allow 20 to 30 people to communicate at once.

The group works with U.N. emergency workers and sets up outposts to help people trying to get in touch with family and relatives.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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