Online Scammers Take Advantage of the MH17 Situation

Uncompassionate scammers are at it again, and this time they’re exploiting the MH17 plane crash.
MH17: videos show missile launcher in vicinity of neighbouring towns

Tweets, Facebook posts and even a Facebook page have been created to fool users into thinking they’re being shown content relating to the situation, but which either redirect users to a pornographic site or ask for personal information.

Online security specialist Richard Cox said that it was common for spammers to take advantage of anything being discussed by a lot of people online.

“It is a fairly rapid and predictable response by the individuals behind it. They are all out to make money,” he said.

Liam Sweeney, one of the 298 victims of the disaster, has had a Facebook page apparently set up in his memory. Its only post is a link entitled ‘Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crash over Ukraine’. And where does that link to? A pornographic site asking you to call a phone number in order to verify that you are aged 18 or over. People actually calling the number will undoubtedly then be bombarded with nuisance calls.

Be smart

If you’re looking for the latest news about the situation, or indeed any news story, then go to a news website. Facebook may be deleting the offensive pages as it is made aware of them, but it can never be a trusted platform for news because of the sheer volume of unregulated content and how easy it is to make spam look legit. If you do see a link which your friend has posted and you’re not 100% sure if it’s a legitimate link, ask them – they may be unaware that it’s been posted on their behalf.

It’s also important that you’re running up-to-date anti-malware software on your machine or smartphone. While most of these links are to pornographic sites, a portion of them will automatically download malware on to your device.