Whenever tragedy strikes, Internet scammers are close on the trail with a new ruse to reel in the unsuspecting.
Fraudulent donation funds followed the natural disasters of the Haiti earthquake and the Japan tsunami. Amy Winehouse’s death in July prompted a slew of fake Facebook pop-ups. Most recently, Steve Jobs’s passing has given virtual conmen new fodder to work with.
Within just a few hours of the news breaking about Steve Jobs’ death last week, cyber criminals were hard at work littering the Internet with new scams. Facebook is a popular platform for such fraudulent activity, targeting users that are click-friendly and unwary of being duped.
One such Facebook scam involving the Apple co-founder announced the giving away of 1,000 iPads in commemoration of Steve Jobs. As with most scams on Facebook, users are asked to click on a link which then shares the post on their wall.
In order to be eligible for the iPad drawing, people on Facebook were redirected to an advertising site. Each time a visitor went to the site, the scammer’s earnings increased.
Another variation of the Steve Jobs scam asked users to complete an online survey before they could receive their free iPad or other Apple device. The survey required sensitive personal information, such as birth dates and even credit card numbers for shipping purposes.
The deceptive sites also infected computers with malware when users clicked the links. Some of these websites worked on commission, and with an increase in traffic, came an increase in revenue.
Most Internet scams work in the same fashion: They get people to click on links, share the post with others, and give away their sensitive information.
The Better Business Bureau put out a warning against the Steve Jobs Internet scam, and they urged people to be suspicious of any posts advertising free products and asking users to complete online surveys, especially those on Facebook.
Scammers often target Facebook users because of their click-happy and social nature. Facebook is considered to be somewhat of a community where friends share things. If a friend shares a link for free iPads, most assume that they can trust their judgment and sign up for the free stuff as well.
It’s unfortunate that evildoers out there prey on unsuspecting and trustworthy Internet users. To use someone’s death for monetary benefit is a disgraceful act, but it continues to happen each time a newsworthy event occurs.
Facebook has 800 million users, and in the eyes of scammers, they’re all potential prey and sources of income.
In order to steer clear of such situations, it’s important to follow a few key guidelines. Don’t ever give out credit card numbers or personal information, be wary of anything that looks suspicious, and above all, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Hart, Janet C. “BBB: Watch Out for Internet Scams Related to Steve Jobs’ Death” BBB http://charlotte.bbb.org/article/BBB-Watch-Out-for-Internet-Scams-Related-to-Steve-Jobs-Death-29901 Accessed 10/11/11
“Steve Jobs’ death spawns scams” channelnewasia.com http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/technologynews/view/1158287/1/.html Accessed 10/10/11