Here is a CBC article on how scammers and cyber criminals are trying to exploit the generosity of people. Save yourself the disappointment and embarrassment and if you are interested in helping people in Haiti donate to an experienced Canadian aid organization that has operations in Haiti such as the members of the Humanitarian Coalition (http://www.thehumanitariancoalition.ca/)  or Doctors Without Borders Canada (http://www.msf.ca/)

Here are some tips from the Charities Directorate of CRA on how a donor can avoid being a victim of fraud:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/dnrs/lrt/1-eng.html

As well keep in mind that for every charity scam there is a questionable or ineffectual charity trying to do work in Haiti:

Groups Raise Doubts About Wyclef Jean’s Charity http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=9577218 At least in America people are prepared to look hard and then write about problems with charities – in Canada we have 2 journalists who are prepared to do that!

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/01/14/consumer-haiti-donations-scams.html

Internet scams target Haiti donations
Canadians warned to direct their generosity to legitimate organizations
Last Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2010 | 5:26 PM ET Comments33Recommend36CBC News
Scams are already circulating on the internet attempting to lure those touched by the Haitian earthquake tragedy to send money to cybercriminals instead of those who need it.

One scam, modelled on the advance letter fee fraud, mimics the British Red Cross appeal for donations, starting off with a description of the disaster and the fact “thousands of people there [are] in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.”

The advance letter fee fraud, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian letter scam, usually involves a “request for urgent business transaction,” according the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre.

In the Red Cross scam noted by internet security firm Symantec, the fake letter uses a real London address, but there’s a giveaway that should be a key tipoff that it’s a scam. People are asked to send money via Western Union.

The real British Red Cross, or any charity, would never request donations sent by Western Union, according to Paul Wood, who works for Symantec.

“They count on the public’s good nature, concern and desire to help, and hope that they won’t see through the scam email which they are reading. The desire to help can often cloud a person’s good judgment,” Wood wrote in a blog posting on Symantec’s website.

‘End up in the pockets of a cybercriminal”
“Any money sent using the instructions in this email would not help anyone in Haiti, it would end up in the pockets of a cybercriminal,” Wood wrote.

The Montreal-based charity Sun Youth Organization has advised people to avoid giving money to relief organizations they haven’t heard of.

But that doesn’t help much when scam sites mimic the real thing.

“Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people take advantage of such tragedies to fraud donors wishing to contribute to the relief efforts,” said Sun Youth in a news release Thursday.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is advising people to apply a “critical eye” to requests for financial donations to Haiti.

“Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes,” the FBI says in its advisory.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has listed a number of strategies on its website to avoid scammers.

Aid agencies say Canadians are donating so generously to the Haitian disaster-relief efforts that their internet servers are periodically crashing.

Kieran Green of the Humanitarian Coalition, which includes Care Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec and Save the Children, said donations are “quite literally overwhelming.”

Doctors without Borders is reporting the same massive response, with spokeswoman Avril Benoit Twittering that they are “white-knuckling it” as the agency’s website “teeters from overload.”

World Vision, which is using social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, says donations are coming in at 10 times the usual rate.

Canadian Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Kallio said that within the first 24 hours, $1 million was raised to support disaster relief efforts by the agency.