As I have told you many times, scammers constantly take advantage of whatever is of interest to the public and turn it into a scam. Last week’s Academy Awards brought a lot of attention to the movies nominated for best picture Ford v. Ferrari, 1917, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishman and the surprise winner, Parasite. The security company Kaspersky found twenty phishing websites and 925 malicious files all appearing to offer free access to pirated downloads of these movies. The most malicious files were for Joker and while no phishing websites or malicious files were found related to Parasite, it can be expected that following Parasite’s win for Best Picture that such malicious sites will be popping up in short order. Last May I warned you about a similar scam involved with the release of the Avengers: Endgame movie.
Attempting to stream an illegal version of a movie is not only illegal and unethical, but it could also lead to your being scammed out of money. Many of these scam websites and malicious files require you to take a survey in order to see the free, pirated version of the movie. These surveys may ask for personal information including credit card information that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft. In other instances the phishing websites and malicious files will automatically download malware on to your phone or computer. In the case last Spring of the bogus websites promising a free pirated version of the Avengers: Endgame movie, an online search for websites promising to provide the movie for free took you to one site in particular that appeared to provide the movie, but a few moments after the movie started, it stopped and a pop up appeared requiring you to set up an account. The pop up said that the account was free and that all you needed to do was provide your email address and a password. Once you did this, you were then instructed to provide a credit card number and the CVC security code on the back of the card merely to verify that you were located in a country where the website was licensed to distribute the movie. Unfortunately, the website did not provide the Avengers:Endgame. The few minutes of what you initially saw of the movie were just scenes taken from the readily available trailers for the movie. So not only did people falling for this scam not get to see the movie, they ended up providing their credit card information to the scammers in addition to providing a password, which, in too many instances, was the same password the scam victim used for other online services such as online banking. The moral of this story is that trying to view a pirated version of a popular movie for free will only cause to put you into a predicament that even the Avengers couldn’t get you out of.
The first and foremost tip is not to use illegal streaming services. They are illegal and what they are doing is also unethical. Don’t trust search engine searches to provide you with legitimate websites for streaming services. A prominent position in a Google or other search engine search only means that the websites appearing high were adept at understanding the algorithms used to position websites. Never provide a credit card as a means of verification. It is only a means of payment and as for the justification in this Avengers: Endgame scam that the credit card was needed to verify that you are located in a country where the website is licensed to distribute the movie, pirated versions are not licensed anywhere. Another red flag that indicates that the website offering to provide a movie for free is a scam is the extension used for the video file. Common extensions for video files are avi, mkv and mp4. However, malware loaded files often end in .exe so that if you see that extension on the attached file, you know it is a scam. Finally, as always, you should have unique passwords for all of your online accounts so that in the event that a password on one of your accounts is hacked or otherwise compromised, all of your accounts will not be in jeopardy.
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