July 3, 2009

Internet Scam: Allied to Michael Jackson Mounting Swiftly

The amount of Internet scammers exploiting the demise of pop superstar Michael Jackson is rising swiftly. The most frequent ploys are email gifts, a peek at what's said to be unseen pictures and videos of Jackson performing or samples of music the "King of Pop" never released. The emails include attachments that once clicked, discharge a worm or virus, or offer links to bogus Web sites that accumulate private information.

Spammers and scammers are usually fast to seize advantage of key news events such as the latest swine flu epidemic or a major calamity such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed thousands in 2004, or the loss of a world known figure like Jackson.

Sophos, a architect of computer security software, has issued a warning about an Internet virus that's transmitted in an email with the subject line
"Remembering Michael Jackson" and is sent from "sarah@michaeljackson.com, according to the company. The email says a Zip file attachment contains undisclosed songs and pictures of Jackson, but when opened the user's computer is contaminated with a worm that begins scattering to the user's email contacts.

Symantec, another security application developer, said Wednesday that the explosion of Michael Jackson related scams and malware is bigger than the Independence Day related Internet scams the company regularly sees at this time of year.

Internet scammers, like everybody else, were taken by surprise by Jackson's unexpected death last week. But the degree of Michael Jackson related malware and Web scams has been growing quickly in recent days, according to a story by the Associated Press.

There is an email circulating that promises an exclusive look at a YouTube video of the "last work of Michael Jackson," the AP story said. In its place users get a malicious program that steals their passwords. Another email entices recipients with a look at the "latest unpublished photos" of Jackson and includes a link that also installs a program that steals passwords, according to the story.

Other emails lure users to fake Web sites that either installs malware or trick users into disclosing personal information. An email currently making its way around Britain purports to be from Tamla Motown founder Barry Gordy and offers the chance to win free Michael Jackson CDs, according to a story on the Web site of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

On the day Jackson died Sophos detected what it said was the first Internet scam, an email that promised a "breaking news video" and directed users to a bogus Web site.


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