A lot of wonderful people want to help Japan recover from the earthquake/tsunami disaster we have experienced. Before you do, make sure you aren't being scammed, and then make sure that your donation gets spent where you intend.
I recently stumbled across what I suspect is a big scam. "People" leave comments on news stories about the earthquake, or on stories listing charities to donate to, saying that they have "donated $100 to the American Red Cross" through Amazon.com. The comment also contains the url for a website which posts an article copied from the American Red Cross website, and links and banners with the American Red Cross name. They also say "it is safer to give through a name you know, like Amazon" .... Really?
Trouble is, the website url in the comment offers no information about who is running it. All the links - including "about us" and "contact us" take you back to the main article. Worse, the link for donating goes directly to Amazon payments with no intermediate pages, so for all you know, your donation is going to the owner of the bogus website! I did a little sleuthing and have found that this scheme has been used in the past for the Haiti earthquake disaster.
So, if you want to donate to American Red Cross through Amazon, you can do so, but do it by going directly to either Amazon or the American Red Cross website. Do not use a unknown 3rd party website.
Is your donation going to be used to help Japan?
Also, if you want your donation spent on Japan, you have to make sure of it. Many charities, including reputable ones like the American Red Cross, will be asking for donations by reporting on the disaster in Japan. But be advised, that does not mean they will spend your donation on helping Japan.
So, before you give, please read this article at Charity Navigator: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The article offers advice on making the decision to give, how to avoid scams, and a list of charities that Charity Navigator has analyzed and rated, which will use your donation to directly help the victims of this tragedy.
By all means, help Japan in this time of crisis, but do so wisely.
Until next, sweet sailing.