BBB Warns Against Swine Flu Scams
Scammers are creating their own epidemic of spam e-mails
Memphis, TN – April 29, 2009 – Relying on reports from online security experts, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for fraudulent e-mails and Web sites trying to take advantage of the current swine flu outbreak.
“Scammers read newspapers, watch TV and surf the Internet and they know that by using a hook from the day’s top headlines they’ll be able to catch lots of fish,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB President. “Right now, issues associated with swine flu and a potential pandemic are of global interest and that means scammers have a very large pond to go phishing in.”
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!” So far the spammers have been advertising drugs and sending links to online pharmacies, using a network of compromised PCs to distribute their messages.
According to F-Secure Corp., another online security company, 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.
F-Secure also reports that one Web site is already selling a “wine flu pandemic preparedness kits offered online include a variety of items such as gloves, mask, disposable coveralls, etc. Consumers should be aware that a kit can’t give you 100% protection from this or any other flu.
the following advice to avoid becoming a victim of these 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 email@example.com.
- Don’t believe online offers for vaccinations against swine flu because a vaccine does not exist.
- 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.
- Consumers are encouraged to check the Center for Disease Control website and their State Department of Health websites for updates and further information concerning this issue.