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Scammers target Flight MH17 tragedy

By Jeanine Skowronski ·
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Posted: 10 am ET

Scammers, sadly, are looking to cash in on last week's tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Scammers target MH17 victims

The Malaysian jetliner crash has brought scammers out of the woodwork. Copyright: STRINGER/Reuters/Corbis

On Friday, Anton Geraschenko, an aide to Ukraine's Interior Minister, said on Facebook that "death hunters" were looting credit cards from the crash site.

"My humble request to the relatives of the victims to freeze their credit cards, so that they won't (lose) their assets to terrorists!" he wrote.

In response to Geraschenko's allegations, the Dutch Banking Union issued a statement, reiterating that bank cards can't be used without a PIN. It also promised to reimburse victims' next-of-kin for any losses resulting from unlawful card use.

News outlets are also reporting that scammers have been setting up fake Facebook pages using the names of people who died when the plane was shot down. The pages -- which have since been removed by Facebook -- "Rick-Rolled" people to pop-up ads using a link titled: "Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crash over Ukraine. Watch here the video of Crash."

Facebook scams have become commonplace, unfortunately, following disasters, which is why consumers need to think before they click.

"Doing research and not being so impulsive will keep consumers from being baited by scammy links, titles and stories," says Robert Siciliano, Identity Theft Expert with Hotspot Shield.

The scams also illustrate why it's important (an, yes, also unfortunate) that family members take steps to protect a relative's identity following their death. These steps include cancelling credit and debit cards, setting up fraud alerts and sending death certificates, once obtained, to credit reporting agencies.

"Set up Google alerts with the deceased names to monitor any chatter on social sites that may turn up their likeness in a stolen social media identity theft case," Siciliano says.

Follow me on Twitter: @JeanineSko.


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