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Spam Disguised as News

Spammers use many tactics to try to get people to read their messages and click their links. One tactic that is being given a real workout right now is to disguise the spam messages as news reports.

The spam messages are designed so that they appear to come from high-profile news outlets such as CNN and US Today. And the messages themselves masquerade as news items, complete with clickable headlines, news style formatting and secondary links that supposedly allow users to unsubscribe or read a privacy policy.

All links in the messages - including secondary links - open a decidedly dodgy "Science News" page hosted on a Russian server. As with the spam emails, the page is designed to look like a genuine news article.

The page attempts to sell a suspect weight-loss product. It even boasts a collection of - obviously fake - user comments that speak of the product in glowing terms. If you try to submit a comment on the page, you will be automatically redirected to another dodgy weight-loss product website. And, of course, your comment will never appear on the site.

The spammers apparently hope that at least a few people tricked into clicking links in what they thought was a real news article will actually hang around and buy products from the spam website. And, given the amount of such spam that hits inboxes on a daily basis, the tactic obviously works.

Of course, even if only a few people out of the many thousands that get the spam emails actually buy a product, then the campaign will be worthwhile for the spammers and they will continue spewing out their garbage.

Man under the spam rain

© real_texelart

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Last updated: October 10, 2013
First published: October 10, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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