You can always count on scammers and identity thieves to capitalize on every tragic event that captures the public’s imagination. Celebrity deaths seem to be of particular interest to many people. Following the deaths of celebrities in recent years such as Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Paul Walker, scammers and identity thieves set up scams and identity theft schemes to take advantage of the curiosity of the public about the deaths of these celebrities. The sad passing of Robin Williams by suicide is bringing new scams and identity theft schemes. Some of these scams start 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 photographs of Robin Williams purported to be police photographs that have 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.
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 is no reason to consider it reliable. 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. For news matters, you should only rely on legitimate news sources, such as the websites of the major network news stations such as CNN. 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.