Scam of the day – April 24, 2016 – Scams involving the death of Prince

It is a sad fact of life that the deaths of celebrities, such as the recent untimely death of Prince, particularly when they occur unexpectedly, are exploited by scammers seeking to lure curious unwary people to dangerous websites or click on links containing malware.  It is important to never click on links in text messages or emails unless you have absolutely confirmed that they are legitimate because they may contain keystroke logging malware that can steal all of the information from your computer, laptop, smartphone or other device and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.  In addition, a particularly insidious type of malware can be installed on your computer or other device merely by going to an infected website.  Therefore as tempting as it may be for some people to respond to emails, social media posts or other communications promising unseen videos of Prince’s last moments, photographs, you should avoid clicking on those links and going to websites promising this information.  If you want reliable information, you should stay with legitimate news websites.

In addition, it is important to point out that even if you have the most up to date versions of anti-malware security software on your computer and other devices, you will always be at least thirty days behind the newest malware.  It takes that long for the security software companies to come up with new security software to combat newly discovered computer vulnerabilities, sometimes referred to as “zero day” exploits.

TIPS

These types of scams, capitalizing on the deaths of celebrities, such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Paul Walker and Robin Williams have become far too common and predictable.  Don’t be a victim of these scams.  Never click on links in emails or text messages promising you photographs, videos or even new information about events such as these and don’t even go to websites with which you may be unfamiliar to find such information because your computer may get infected merely by going to the website without clicking on any links.  For reliable information, limit your searches to reliable sources.

Scam of the day – December 13, 2013 – Paul Walker Facebook scams

You can always count on scammers and identity thieves to capitalize on every tragic event that captures the public’s imagination.  Whether it was the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings of a year ago to the recent tragic death of actor Paul Walker, scammers and identity thieves know how to take advantage of the public’s desire for more information and often lurid details.  Recently there have been a number of different Walker related scams turning up on Facebook which share a common basis.  They star with a post on your Facebook page, which often can appear to come from someone you know, when in fact, it is really from an identity thief who hacked into the Facebook account of a friend of yours.  The post provides a link to be able to view a video of the actual crash that had not appeared in the news.  Unfortunately, if you fall for this bait by clicking on the link, one of two things can happen, both of which are bad.  In one scam, you are led to a survey that you need to complete before you can view the video. In fact, there is no such video and by providing the survey information, you have enabled the scammer to get paid by advertisers for collecting completed surveys.  However, the problem is worse because by completing the survey, you have turned over valuable information to a scammer who can use that information to target you for phishing and identity theft threats.  Even worse though in another variation of this scam is when click on the link and unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer including credit card numbers, passwords and bank account information and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

Remember my mantra, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  Merely because a post on your Facebook page appears to come from someone you trust, the posting could be merely from someone who has hacked your friend’s Facebook account.  Other times, the posting may indeed be from your real friend, however, that real friend may unwittingly be passing on tainted links that they have received.  In matters such as rare celebrity footage, you should limit your sources to only those that you know are legitimate and can trust such as www.tmz.com.  If it isn’t on TMZ, then it doesn’t really exist.  It is a scam.  Also, make sure that you keep your anti-malware software up to date with the latest security patches.