British Red Cross warns of Japan appeal email scam

Fraudsters have been sending emails in the humanitarian charity's name, urging people to make donations to fake accounts

Destruction following the earthquake in Japan
Destruction following the earthquake in Japan

The British Red Cross has warned that fraudsters are sending emails that claim to be raising money for disaster relief in Japan in the name of the charity.

The organisation said several emails purporting to be from the BRC have been intended to trick people into making donations to its Japan Tsunami Appeal, which are instead going to a fake account.

Two of the variations ask people to donate cash through the money transfer company Western Union.

A spokesman for the BRC said a more sophisticated fake email was directing people to a Moneybookers account, which is completely unrelated to the BRC Japan appeal.

Mark Astarita, director of fundraising at the BRC, said: "The British Red Cross condemns this attempted abuse of people’s goodwill. It beggars belief that anyone would try to profit from human suffering and deliberately take money away from those in need."

The fake account has been closed down, but the charity has warned people to be vigilant for future scams.

The BRC advises people to donate through its official website or its phone number.

"We would urge anyone who wants to donate to the Red Cross to do so directly via our website, rather than clicking on links or responding to these kinds of email," said Astarita.

The charity is working closely with the police to identify the fraudsters behind the emails and to prevent further scams from evolving.

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