Fraudsters in fake Japan catastrophe appeal: Red Cross

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The British Red Cross on Tuesday blasted fraudsters it said had tried to "profit from human suffering" through a fake online appeal for victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami catastrophe.

E-mails claiming to be from the Red Cross asked for donations to an account at online payment company Moneybookers, the charity said in a statement.

But the group said the account was "totally unrelated" to the British Red Cross Japan Appeal and had now been closed down.

"We never ask people to wire money, only to donate via our official website or phone number," said Mark Astarita, director of fundraising for the charity in Britain.

"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."

Japan was hit Friday by a massive earthquake and tsunami which caused enormous devastation and is so far confirmed to have killed more than 3,370 people. Officials have said at least 10,000 were likely to have perished.

But the greatest immediate concern is a quake-hit nuclear reactor which has been hit by explosions and a fire, prompting it to unleash dangerous levels of radiation.

© 2011 AFP

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