ESET Ireland have to issue practically the same warning whenever a tragedy occurs, but unfortunately it has to be done, as after every tragedy the same scams appear and people still fall for them and suffer financial damages and computer infections.
Shortly after the Boston Marathon tragedy news hit, an unverified Twitter account was already spotted asking for re-tweets, claiming that they will donate $1 for each. Though it was soon taken down, it was not the only one and in the coming days we expect many more scams to appear, all using the same tragedy as bait on their hook.
Search engine poisoning is another favourite tactic by scammers, to direct people looking for information to their websites, where, again, several sorts of attacks are waiting for curious viewers.
Fake charity websites have appeared after every major disaster. While many get taken down quickly, some stay on just long enough to scam some compassionate people, trying to help the unfortunate victims.
Facebook posts, similar to the usual “I can’t believe what she did” fake videos, in this case offering “shocking unseen footage of blasts” or something similar, are the usual companions of pretty much every tragedy that has occurred in the recent years. These usually lead to survey scams or infected websites.
What to do?
If you want news on the matter, rely on known news sites and avoid unknown or shortened URLs as these may lead you to infected websites.
For charity aid, use known, trusted charities and preferably deal with them in person or on the phone.
Do not give your credit card number or any personal details to unknown websites asking you for them for any reason, whether it is charity donations, unlocking content, etc.
Be very careful about clicking “shocking footage” links on social media, as most footage is relayed by mainstream media anyway.
Do not repost or re-tweet chain letters or posts from unknown senders, as these often include malicious links and you can end up infecting your friends.
As always and with any online content, think before you click.