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A Dispatch

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August 31, 2008

E-Profiteers Ready for Disaster

The good folks at the SANS Internet Storm Center have reported (here and here) that domain names containing the string "gustav" are being gobbled up in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav coming ashore along the Gulf coast. A lot of these domain names blend "gustav" with words like "relief," "charity," and "donation."

It's possible that some of this domain name parking is being done by individuals or organizations who will set up legitimate web sites if this storm does a Katrina-esque number on the same region. Make that remotely possible.

My bet is that the parking spot owners will either try to resell the domains to legitimate organizations or the domains will be used directly by phony fund raising scams. Let any tragedy occur, and there will be plenty of scum out there trying to take advantage of generous folks who truly want to help.

Remember that there are safe places to find out where you can help. The first place I tend to look is at cnn.com, where a click of the IMPACT button (near the top right corner of the home page) will bring you lists of charities and other outlets where you can help.

cnn.com IMPACT button

Disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes come with little or no warning. Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons, on the other hand, are known well in advance of potential catastrophe. That gives profiteers plenty of time to be in place to reap rewards from others' suffering.

Similar domain names for Hurricane Hanna are already being registered.

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 10:33 AM