Phishing scams that infect a computer and allow hackers to invade banks and other accounts become more common during global crises, currently, scams are surfacing in relation to the Ukraine situation. (Facebook photo)

Phishing scams that infect a computer and allow hackers to invade banks and other accounts become more common during global crises, currently, scams are surfacing in relation to the Ukraine situation. (Facebook photo)

Scam emails, donation fraud surge in Canada as Ukraine crisis continues

Those hoping to contribute to relief cautioned to be mindful about fraudulent emails, phone calls

Cyber security experts are cautioning Canadians before they donate to the crisis in Ukraine with scammers taking advantage of the crisis already on the rise.

Robert Falzon, head of engineering at Canadian cybersecurity firm Check Point, has been following the increase of cyber attacks since the beginning of the invasion.

“It’s becoming much harder for us to expect somebody without technical training to identify these types of attacks because they’re becoming much more sophisticated,” said Falzon.

As Canadians open up their hearts and their wallets during a time of need, they also need to be mindful about where their money and information is going.

What to look out for

Phishing emails are a common practice among scammers, which involves tricking users into clicking on a link, sending personal information or opening an attachment.

Falzon said that one of the most common techniques used in phishing emails are fake domains – often changed by one or two letters and difficult to notice. For example, instead of the email address manager@company.com, a phishing email may use manager@cornpany.com.

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Look for unusual attachments as well, said Falzon, as a common goal of phishing emails is to trick the recipient into downloading and running attached malware on their computer. Falzon urged people to not click on these attachments.

Incorrect grammar and tone is another bad sign in phishing emails, he said.

Mitigation tips

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of cyber attacks begins with education at a young age, said Falzon, as well as in post-secondary institutions.

People with more experience online can take responsibility for their vulnerable family members, such as seniors, by looking over their emails and double-checking the merit of the organization their loved one is wishing to donate to.

“Government can also do more around legislation to prevent scam calls and other means of phishing,” said Falzon. “It would also be useful for companies to make cyber security part of their standard offering – like seatbelts in a car – we need to hold companies accountable for people’s safety.”

There is more to be done from a manufacturing perspective, as well, and there are tools that can be embedded in systems that identify scams before they even come through, Falzon said.

Safe methods to donate to the Ukrainian crisis include:

The Government of Canada is matching all donations to the Canadian Red Cross by Canadians to a maximum of $10 million. To donate to the campaign visit donate.redcross.ca.

Children on the Earth started a GoFundMe page called Teddy Bears for Children of the Ukraine.


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