Buffalo, NY – ( release) In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden death, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for a slew of cyber-scams that have popped up in the past few days.
According to Kaspersky Labs, an Internet security firm, malicious websites and links have been flourishing on Google Images searches, Facebook, and other social media sites.
On Facebook, a fake video purporting to show the death of Bin Laden prompts users to input a malicious URL into their browsers, which could infect their computer with a virus. Kaspersky also reports that other Facebook scams lure victims to malicious Facebook Pages with promises of free airplane tickets, and other “free” offers to “celebrate Osama’s death.”
“Be suspicious of any solicitation circling around Osama’s death,” said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President. “Pleas sent by email or direct mail will attempt to capitalize on our emotions, similar to the Nigerian Letter scams.” Although each letter may contain a slightly different appeal, BBB is reporting that the latest letter has a "soldier" asking for assistance in transferring millions of dollars of excess money to a trustworthy U.S. citizen. To participate in the deal, the person must contact the soldier to solidify the partnership and arrange pickup of the millions.
This type of scam often requires the victim to provide their bank account number and the name, address, phone and fax numbers of their bank. Using the provided information, the con artists can then raid the victim's bank account. Or they may try to get money directly by requesting exorbitant payments to cover transfer fees, travel expenses, taxes, or necessary bribes before the transaction can occur. Needless to say, no one has ever received the promised funds, and losses from participating in illegal foreign business deals are nearly impossible to recover.
BBB advises consumers to stay vigilant and follow the following tips to avoid becoming a cyber-scam victim:
Think before you click. Be mindful about clicking on links that purport to show information that’s not widely available from respected news sources. In the case of Bin Laden, no photos or videos related to his death have been released. Be extremely skeptical of links that say otherwise.
Don’t fall for the not-so-free “free” offer. Be wary of free offers “celebrating” any sort of occasion, especially if the offer comes from a company or website you haven’t heard of. One bad link is often times all it takes for a scammer to infect your computer with a virus.
Spread the word. Discuss such scams with members of your family who have access to the Internet. Young people are very computer savvy, but may not be scam savvy, and older adults are specifically targeted by scammers because they are often very trusting.
Know the red flags. Watch out for grammatical mistakes in emails, letters and on websites. Poor grammar or misspelled words are red flags that the email or website could be a scam.
Never wire money. Scammers prey on individuals who believe they need to wire money to resolve a situation.
Check with BBB. BBB advises anyone receiving such a letter not to respond. Instead, send the letter to your local BBB or to the U.S. Secret Service, which is currently investigating.
For more information to protect yourself against scams, visit us online at bbb.org.