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Foursquare 'Friend Request Approved' Pharmacy Spam

Email purporting to be from social networking service Foursquare claims that a recent Foursquare friend request has been approved.

Brief Analysis
The message is not from Foursquare. The link in the message opens a bogus "drug store" website that attempts to sell pharmaceutical products without the need to provide a prescription. The suspect sites may also harbour malware.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

Last updated: 11th June 2012
First published: 11th June 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

From: foursquare
Subject: [Name removed] is now your friend

Hey there - Just a heads up that [Name removed] has approved your friend request on foursquare. View their profile: [Link removed]

Have fun!
- Your friends @ foursquare

foursquare labs, Inc. 568 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Please remember you can always go to your User Settings page to adjust your account and contact info, privacy controls, email preferences and options linking to Twitter and Facebook.

Foursquare  Pharmacy Spam

Detailed Analysis
According to this email, which claims to be from mobile device orientated social networking service Foursquare, a recent friend request sent by the recipient has been approved. The message includes the name of the user who supposedly approved the friend request and invites the recipient to click a link to read the user's Foursquare profile.

However, the message is not from Foursquare and the "friend request" claims are simply the bait designed to trick recipients into following the included link. Those who do click the link will be taken to a bogus "pharmacy" website designed to sell various medications without the need to provide a prescription.

The name of the imaginary user that supposedly approved the friend request varies in different incarnations of the spam emails. The messages use spoofed email addresses to make it appear that they are genuine Foursquare notifications. The criminals responsible for this spam campaign bank on the fact that some recipients will click on the link in the message without due care and attention in an attempt to find out why they have received a friend request approval from someone they don't even know.

And this spammer tactic obviously works. This message is just one more variant in a long line of very similar spam campaigns that have misused the names of other high profile online services, including YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Thus, it is clear that at least a few of the users who are tricked into following links in the fake messages actually stay on the spam sites and buy their suspect products.

It is foolish - and potentially dangerous - to buy products from such bogus pharmacy sites. Firstly, even if you do actually receive a product that you order, you have no way of knowing if it is the real thing or some potentially dangerous substitute. Secondly, because the medicine has not been properly prescribed by a doctor, it may interfere with other medications that you are taking or be unsuitable for you due to existing health conditions. Thirdly, these sites typically use unsecure pages to process credit card transactions, which could certainly put your credit card details at risk. Fourthly, any group unscrupulous enough to use such deliberately deceptive spam tactics is not one you should trust with your credit card details or other personal information.

Moreover, some such sites may also harbour malware of various types that users may inadvertently download and install on their computers.

If you receive one of these fake notification emails, do not click on any links that it may contain.

Bookmark and Share References
Pharmacy Spam Emails Purport to be From YouTube
Facebook Deactivated Account Spam
Fake LinkedIn Email Leads to Pharmacy Spam Website
Pharmacy Spam Disguised as Twitter Emails

Last updated: 11th June 2012
First published: 11th June 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer