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Beware of Scams That Exploit MH17 Disaster

Sadly, callous criminals waste no time in exploiting disasters such as air-crashes, terrorist attacks, storms, or tsunamis. The MH17 missile attack tragedy is no exception. In coming days and weeks, Internet users should be wary of scam attacks that attempt to trick people into following links or opening attachments in messages that are supposedly related to MH17. Here are three ways in which scammers are likely to launch such attacks:

Survey Scams

These scam messages, which circulate via Facebook, may promise 'shocking video' or 'breaking news' footage about MH17.  The 'video' links will lead to fake Facebook Pages that claim that you must share the post and participate in various dodgy online surveys before seeing the video.

However, the promised videos do not exist and victims will be tricked into spamming their friends and generating revenue for scammers via affiliate marketing schemes when they participate in surveys.

A large number of these scams appeared on Facebook after the loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Some versions may trick people into installing rogue apps or malicious browser extensions.

Malware Campaigns

Messages distributed via email or social media posts may claim that users can access news reports with new information about the disaster by clicking a link. However, the links may lead to compromised websites that harbour malware.

Once on the sites, users may be tricked into downloading and installing the malware, ostensibly so that they can access the promised news stories.

Donation Scams

Various 'charity campaigns' may ask people to visit a website or fill in a form in an attached file to donate money to help support the families of MH17 victims.

The messages may appear to come from legitimate charities.

However, these campaigns will be fraudulent. By 'donating' on such sites, you will likely be giving your credit card details and other personal information to online criminals who may use it to commit credit card fraud and identity theft.

How to Avoid Such Scams

Remain vigilant, and don't let yourself or your friends get caught out by these scams. Be wary of following links in MH17 related messages unless you know that they are from a legitimate source.

If, after clicking such a link, you are told that, before you proceed, you must share the post, participate in a survey, install an app or browser extension, or download a video player update or other software, close the page immediately.

And, only donate via legitimate organizations such as the Red Cross. Before donating, make sure that you are on the organization's real website, not a replica created by scammers to steal your credit card data. Rather than click a link in a donation email, it is safer to go directly to the organization's website via your web browser.

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© karenr

Last updated: July 21, 2014
First published: July 21, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

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