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Haiti Earthquake Money Laundering Scam

Email asks the recipient to work as a representative for a Haiti Earthquake disaster aid organization by collecting and processing donated funds.

Brief Analysis
The message is a scam and is not from a legitimate aid organization.The supposed "donations" that the victim "collects" on behalf of the fake aid agency are in fact funds that have been stolen during other scams and fraudulent activities. The victim will be asked to process these stolen funds via his or her own bank accounts and then send the cash back to the scammers via international money transfer. This effectively "launders" the money for the criminals responsible. Police investigations will lead to the victim rather than the criminals who actually stole the funds.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

Last updated: 3rd March 2010
First published: 3rd March 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

Subject: Save Life

Dear Sir / Madam,

My name is Mrs. Mercy Clark of Help Haiti Foundation International. Our NGO has been taking care of a group of children and pregnant women who have been victims of the recent Haiti Earthquake disaster, by providing food, drug clothing and treatment to victims in our temporary emergency camp in South West Haiti.

We have been doing everything in our capacity to fend for the victims of the disaster and we have been soliciting for funds to meet up with the need of the victims in our custody in addition to private donations from generous donors worldwide. We have been running enlightenment campaigns and we have some donors who are willing to make donations to assist this project. We have donors who have been making generous donations to our organization for assist as relief materials to victims of this disaster. Due to the lack of available time and different forms of donations, from our Africa, Asia, Australia, American and European donors, we hereby need you as a collector in Your Area who would act as a representative, collecting payments on our behalf.

Job Specifics:
1. Collection of Donations / Payments
2. Cashing of Donations / Payments
3. Sending cashed donation/payments to our organization following Our Instructions.
4. Keeping Record of each donation / payment received and sent.

Note that your commission for being our representative is 15% per payment received an cashed. If you are interested in working with us, reply to specifically to: [email protected]

(with the following. details:)

Full Names: Address:
Mailing Address/Zip Code:
Telephone Number and Mobile Number:
Bank Details:
Your International Passport:
Present Occupation:

After two months of working with us, you would be invited on our own expense paid trip to the disaster site and visitation to the rehabilitated victims.

Yours Faithfully,
Mrs. Mercy Clark

Detailed Analysis
This email claims to be from "Help Haiti Foundation International", an aid organization that is supposedly providing food, drugs, clothing and treatment to victims of the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti in January 2010. The message asks if the recipient would like to participate in this aid effort by becoming an agency representative who would be responsible for the collection and processing of monetary donations. Supposedly, the role of this representative is to collect donations and payments in various forms, process them into cash, and then send the cash back to the "organization" as per instructions. The message claims that the representative will receive a commission of 15% of each payment processed as compensation for his or her help.

However, the message is not from a legitimate aid organization. The supposed job outlined in the email is in fact a criminal scheme designed to trick unsuspecting recipients into receiving and processing stolen or fraudulently obtained funds. If a recipient falls for the ruse and takes the "job" offered in the scam email, he or she will begin receiving cheques and money orders, ostensibly as donations from members of the public for use by the aid agency in Haiti. He or she will be instructed to cash these cheques and money orders directly or deposit them in his or her bank account for processing. More "donations" may be transferred from other accounts and deposited directly into the "representative's" bank account for processing. He or she will be instructed to deduct 15% from each of these transactions and then send the proceeds as cash via an International money transfer service to the agent of the aid organization.

But, in reality, none of the funds received are actually donations. Instead, they are the proceeds of criminal activities such as robberies, phishing fraud and counterfeiting. The cheques and money orders are likely to be stolen or fake. Money transferred into the "representative's" account is likely to come from bank or credit card accounts that have been hijacked in phishing scams or other types of fraud.

Thus, rather than playing a legitimate role as a collector for an aid agency, the hapless "representative" is in fact aiding and abetting criminals by effectively "laundering" the proceeds of crime. Investigations will eventually lead police to the door of the "representative", who will be left "holding the bundle" and will have a lot of explaining to do. Meanwhile, the real culprits will have collected their cash transfers and absconded, and will remain at liberty to continue their nefarious activities with even more victims.

In some cases, victims have actually been charged by police for their role in such laundering schemes. Even if they are eventually found to be innocent victims, they will have to endure intensive investigations into their activities by police and may be liable for expensive legal and other costs as a result. In some cases, the victims also risk having their identities stolen because they have inadvertently supplied too much of their personal information to criminals during the bogus "job application" process.

Such laundering scams are very common. Criminals continually try to entice people into becoming involved in their illegal activities via fake job offers like the example included above. As well as being distributed via email, such bogus "employment offers" are often posted on employment related websites. Be very cautious of any "job offer" that requires you to process funds and then electronically wire the proceeds back to your "employer" as cash. No legitimate organization is likely to conduct business in this way.

For more information about money laundering scams, see:
Payment Transfer Job Scam Emails - Laundering Scams

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Last updated: 3rd March 2010
First published: 3rd March 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer