Scammers are creating their own epidemic of spam e-mails
Chicago, IL-April 29, 2009 - Relying on reports from national Internet security experts, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for spam e-mail messages, which take advantage of the public‘s concern about the Swine Flu, but could contain malware, other computer viruses, or are disguised attempts to sell products such as vitamins.
“Scammers are quick to latch onto whatever grabs the public’s attention,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. “They know an e-mail about a hot, interesting topic will cause many people to open the message. That’s the opportunity the scammer needs to infect a computer, go phishing for personal information or present an unwanted marketing message.”
According to McAfee Avert Labs, an online security company, spammers began pumping out e-mails as soon as the first accounts of swine flu were being reported in the news, accounting for two percent of all spam messages. The messages include such subject lines as, “Madonna caught swine flu!” and “Swine flu in Hollywood!” The company reports that the e-mails do not contain malware but often link to online pharmacies.
Other online security sources note that more than 250 Web sites with the term “swine flu” have been registered within the first few days following the announcement of the outbreak and predict that the scams artists are preparing to use such Web sites in a variety of different online scams.
BBB offers the following advice to avoid swine flu scams:
- Avoid opening e-mail from an unknown source and do not click on any links in the body of the e-mail or open any attachments. Instead, delete the e-mail or report it to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Don’t believe online offers for vaccinations against swine flu because a vaccine does not exist. For more information on swine flu and updates on progress in fighting the outbreak, go to www.cdc.gov/swineflu
- Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date and all operating system security patches have been installed. If your computer becomes infected as the result of a spam e-mail about swine flu, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov