Red Cross Derails Scam

After receiving a cease and desist order from the American Red Cross last week, a charity Web site alleged to be fraudulent has been taken down.

The group called itself Red Crosse International Organization for Children and sent e-mails asking for a $10 donation to help save the life of a Russian boy named Serezha Aksentov.

The plea claimed to come from the boy's mother, Tatiana Aksentov, and said that the 18-month-old child was diagnosed with leukemia four months ago and would die without expensive medication.

DM News received the e-mail Dec. 23. The order was issued Dec. 24 after the Red Cross received about eight inquiries from the public.

Prior to its removal, the Web site at accepted donations via Internet payment system PayPal. Though the site did not contain a telephone number, e-mails sent by DM News to contacts listed there went unanswered.

“It is a scam,” said Devorah Goldburg, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, Washington. “They do not have any association or affiliation with the American Red Cross, and we issued a cease and desist order for misrepresentation.”

She did not have further information about the perpetrators or the likelihood that people had fallen for the scam. As scams go, Goldburg characterized this one as relatively minor.

“We've had cases where there have been thousands of e-mails from the public,” she said.

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance was unaware of the scam.

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