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Investigation of Tsunami "Phishing" Attacks

19 January 2005

MasterCard International, NameProtect Aid Law Enforcement Agencies’ Investigation of Tsunami Phishing Attacks

Consumers Are Urged to Make Donations Directly to Official Web Sites Rather Than Respond to Unsolicited Requests

Auckland, Jan. 19, 2005 – MasterCard International and leading digital fraud detection company NameProtect, Inc. are volunteering their services to help law enforcement agencies to stop scam artists from stealing donations to tsunami relief efforts. Whilst there have been no occurrences of “phishing” reported in New Zealand, given the trend overseas, MasterCard will be pro-actively working with local agencies to prevent this happening.

Recently, many law enforcement agencies and consumer advocacy organisations issued warnings that con artists were using “phishing” attacks to prey upon the outpouring of generosity for victims of the tsunami tragedy. In these attacks, fraudulent emails disguised as emails from seemingly legitimate tsunami relief agencies are sent to unsuspecting consumers, attempting to trick them into going to a fraudulent web site designed to steal credit card and other personal information.

MasterCard and NameProtect are collaborating to use NameProtect’s industry-leading Internet detection technology and systems to quickly identify these phishing attacks for the federal law enforcement agencies to investigate. To date, the companies have found 133 potential tsunami-related phishing sites that the federal law enforcement agencies are now investigating.

“Sadly, we have identified numerous phishing web sites that are trying to take advantage of people’s compassion – but we are working with law enforcement to shut them down,” said Sergio Pinon, senior vice president of Security and Risk Services for MasterCard International. “By clearing out the scam artists, we hope people will continue to donate to legitimate relief efforts. However, we recommend that people do so by directly making their donations on the official web sites of the relief agencies instead of responding to unsolicited emails.”

"The global community has stepped forward in this difficult time. We are pleased to assist federal law enforcement efforts to prevent criminals from preying on donors’ generosity. Sergio and I are committed to purging fraud in the online environment as we strive to ensure confidence in the relief efforts,” said Mark McLane, CEO, NameProtect.

Consumers are encouraged to safeguard themselves against phishing by following the tips provided below: Be wary of phishing emails. Banks do not contact customers to ask them to provide sensitive information such as passwords and PINs online. Look for indications such as spelling and grammatical errors that expose the email as being not genuine.

Do not click hastily on links appearing in incoming emails and provide payment card or other personal information. Make it a practice to connect to an institution’s web site only by directly typing the institution’s valid Web address into the Web browser. Notify your bank and local law enforcement authorities promptly by forwarding suspicious phishing-type emails.

This action will help shut down the fake web site and to take action against the criminals. Monitor the transactions appearing on your statements, and quickly report suspicious transactions to your bank. Change passwords and PINs periodically. Install anti-spam and firewall software on your personal computer to stop receiving spam and to prevent unauthorised access. Turn off your computer when not in use, to avoid criminals gaining access and misusing it for fraudulent purposes, which includes launching phishing attacks. If you suspect that you have become a victim of a phishing attack and already have divulged your sensitive account information to fraudsters, please contact your bank immediately to discuss the appropriate remedial action. Continue to monitor your statement for unauthorised transactions, if your account is not closed.

In June 2004, MasterCard and NameProtect united to aggressively combat illegal online activities such as phishing, identity theft schemes and the brokering of illegally obtained credit card numbers in the online environment. The partnership calls for the companies to work together to identify sites established solely to steal personal information and then squash illegal activity before people’s accounts and information are compromised.

About MasterCard International MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard International manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment card brands including MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless advertising campaign is now seen in 97 countries and in 47 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to

About NameProtect Inc. NameProtect® is a trademark and digital brand protection company that provides a comprehensive suite of trademark research, trademark watching and advanced online brand monitoring services that help practitioners meet the evolving Intellectual Property challenges of the digital era.

With its VigilActive® online monitoring service and Internet Intelligence Index, NameProtect is helping major brand holding companies from around the globe police and protect their brands. NameProtect’s customers include leading law firms, Fortune 500 companies and other businesses worldwide. Founded in 1997, NameProtect is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, and privately held. Additional information about NameProtect can be obtained via the company’s web site located at:


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