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February 27th, 2014

Sex, lies and videotapes aka Celebrity scams

Famous people – movie stars, athletes, politicians -  are the favorite subject matter of scammers. Using modern technologies and communications channels, scammers and social engineers come up with sophisticated methods to trick people and grab their attention. Social channels offer a perfect environment to create buzz, grab users’ interest with shocking content, and eventually make people share the scams themselves! Behind different types of scams stands different motivations; collecting likes (likes farms), spreading malware, or installing malicious applications that will steal your credentials. Whatever  those motivations, the intentions of scammers ain’t for your benefit!

We monitor social media to pick up those dangerous scams, warn our community, and report it to our virus lab. There are plenty of users who still become victims of scammers. We are convinced that it is more efficient to avoid problems, than to fix them.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ~ Benjamin Franklin

Let’s take a look at a few types of scams and patterns that will help us to recognize them ahead. STOP – THINK – AND DON’T CLICK (YET)

Celebrity_sex_scam“Sex tape” scam 

Celebrities are in the constant spotlight, followed not only by the paparazzi and tabloid magazines, but fans as well, observing every step they take. The more unusual and shocking the story is, the better it sells online. Is there any better way to attract humans’ attention than with sex? If you know of some, please let us know! :) Meanwhile, let’s learn how those scams work and mainly -  how to recognize them!

Red flags:

  • Rouge visuals, shocking copy, and very strong call to actions. If the status contains any of following: OMGYou must watch itLook what she/he has done! NEVER click on this link!
  • Message leads to a shortened URL, so you can not recognize the link that doesn’t lead to any well- known source (celebrity fan pages or blogs, entertainment websites)
  • The hosting server is unknown source

Would you click on the video saying “OMG I can’t believe Rihanna did it with a…” How about a random picture, showing a young couple that is used to distribute exactly the same message, except for the fact that this time it’s Justin Bieber? Do you really think it will be a “sex tape“? Sounds like common sense? Obviously not! Lots of people are being tricked, and we are here not to judge, but to warn you!

STOP – THINK – AND DON’T CLICK.

“Death/murder” scam 

Probably the second most popular scam is the one about a celebrity death. Wouldn’t you check immediately on news announcing that your favorite celebrity suddenly passed away? You wouldn’t have believed it at first,  so you want to verify the news… by CLICKing on news, which can be one simple click to malware hell = scammers’ paradise!

Red flags:Celebrity_death_Eminem_scam

  • Extremely brutal visuals, again shocking copy and very strong call to actions. If it contains any of following: RIP, killed, bitten to death, NEVER click on this link
  • It isn’t announced by official communication channels, or PR representatives
  • It contains typos, grammar mistakes, incorrect punctuation

Bear in mind that celebrities have their own Public Relations agency, or professionals, to handle official communication on their behalf and to announce important events, including the one such as passing away.  Always check official pages of your favorite celebrity, to verify if the news is genuine.

STOP – THINK – AND DON’T CLICK.

“General scandals” scam 

This is similar, although a much broader difficult-to-recognize type of scam. The mechanism is however very similar. For example, recently the favorite subject of scammers’ attacks is Justin Bieber. The young celebrity is quite troublesome, so how you can actually recognize what is a real scandal and what is a scam? Now this requires an advanced anti-scam eye! We will show you how to train it. Spot the difference on the image!

Justin comparison

The top image shows the  tabloid news, with a clear source indicated. The message is written in correct English. Now read the comment on the image below. The message itself does’t make much sense: Since Justin Bieber already (accidentally) killed someone, he would have been imprisoned, not driving peacefully on the streets, to commit another crime. His surname is misspelled and the source is questionable. Who ever heard of utube-trends?

#AVASTtip

  • Use common sense. STOP – THINK – AND DON’T CLICK on the shiny, shocking, brutal, sex related statuses
  • Be careful if the message contains any of the following: OMG, RIP, shocking, breaking news, looks what he has done.
  • Verify news with the trustworthy source, even if it is official tabloid, it will be safe!
  • Avoid clicking on messages with typos, grammar mistakes with suspected sources
  • If, instead of playing the video, you are ask to sign in somewhere, share the message, accept some application, NEVER confirm it.

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