PayPal and Twitter abused in Turkey relief donation scams


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Aug 17, 2014
Scammers are now exploiting the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Turkey and Syria: this time stealing donations by abusing legitimate platforms like PayPal and Twitter.

This week, high magnitude earthquakes claimed more than 15,000 lives, caused extensive infrastructural damage and disrupted network connectivity across the Middle East and Mediterranean region.

As government, businesses and charity organizations step up to raise funds and aid victims of this ecological disaster, threat actors are wasting no time in targeting unsuspecting donors.

BleepingComputer has identified multiple scams running on Twitter and abusing legitimate platforms like PayPal's fundraising pages to create convincing scam websites and collect proceeds from donors hoping to aid earthquake victims.
BleepingComputer has reported this fundraiser to PayPal and approached the company for comment. A PayPal spokesperson shared a statement with BleepingComputer:

"PayPal is used by over 500,000 legitimate charities and non-profit organisations around the globe. While the vast majority of people using PayPal to accept donations have the best intentions, there are inevitably some who attempt to prey on the charitable nature and generosity of others. PayPal teams are always working diligently to scrutinise and ban accounts, particularly in the wake of events like the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, so that donations go to intended causes. We also encourage the community to flag any suspicious activity to the company. As always, we recommend that anyone looking to support disaster relief efforts do so through verified, reputable organisations or corporate campaigns."

What makes a scam like this especially convincing is, instead of using a separate scam or phishing domain, threat actors use a trustworthy payments platform like PayPal. Picking scams apart from real fundraisers is further complicated by the fact that any person can set up fundraisers online and claim to have the best of intentions, which remains questionable.

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