According to security firm Websense, donors should be really careful about which online scams designed to look like genuine projects meant to help the victims of the recent California fire.

Unfortunately, as we saw with Katrina and several other recent emergencies, there are criminals who attempt to divert monies intended for the victims by creating bogus online donation Web sites and advertising them on high-traffic Web sites,” said Dan Hubbard, vice president of security research, Websense. “These criminals are trying to take advantage of the amazing outpouring of support locally, state-wide and internationally. Websense is aggressively monitoring domain registrations, email honeypots, and scanning the Web looking for these suspicious sites.”

The company advises web users to make sure that they are dealing with legitimate organizations and not with fraudsters:

– Contact these organizations on your own – go to their Web site rather than clicking on a link in an email sent to you.
– Remember that legitimate organizations will not aggressively approach people for money and donations.
– Be mindful of groups reporting to be affiliated with legitimate organizations asking for donations or requesting you to visit their Web site. They may be fraudulent or hosting malicious code designed to steal information such as banking details.
– Be wary of online auctions that claim to support the donation effort.

Users who think they might’ve stumbled upon a fake initiative are advised to report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center  or the Federal government’s consumer information center.