Before most of us had even heard of the dreaded Swine Flu, you can bet that scammers, phishers, and spammers were already devising ways to exploit the growing fears of the population by trying to sell us bogus medication, or steal our personal information. There has been a huge influx of spam email with "SWINE FLU" in the subject line. In fact, as of April 2009, Swine Flu-related spam emails made up about 4% of all global spam emails!
Some things you can watch out for, from CNET.com
"One scam features a malicious Adobe PDF document titled "Swine influenza frequently asked questions.pdf," according to Symantec. The malicious PDF file has been recognized as "Bloodhound.Exploit.6" and it drops malicious InfoStealer code onto the victim's computer, the company said."
"One spam with a subject line "Suspected Mexican flu toll hits 81" includes news headlines from legitimate agencies and asks recipients whether they are located in the U.S. or Mexico and if they know anyone affected by the outbreak. Recipients are asked to go to a Web site to fill in a form or reply to the e-mail and include their e-mail address, address, and phone number.."
This Swine Flu spam comes in many different forms. Another popular subject line of these fraudulent emails is one offering Tamiflu without a prescription. Tamiflu is a prescription-only medication used to treat the influenza virus. This email will have a link taking the unfortunate reader to a phony pharmaceutical company's website, where they will be able to order the supposed medication. Not only will you end up with fake medicine, but you'll also have given the scammers your personal information - name, address, credit card info, etc.
This same scam works for other "wonder treatments" as well. There are countless people out there looking to make a buck by selling a fake product promising it will protect you from catching the virus. The FDA
have even issued warnings to consumers to watch out for these "so-called swine flu treatments". Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. released a statement saying, "Unless these products are proven to be safe and effective for the claims that are made, it is not known whether they will prevent the transmission of the virus or offer effective remedies against infection. Furthermore, they can make matters worse by providing consumers with a false sense of protection."
A "false sense of protection" is what many of these schemers are trying to sell you. With Swine Flu in all the news headlines, people are looking for ways to keep themselves and their families safe. Getting an email with the subject "Swine Flu Safety Tips" may seem like a helpful piece of advice, until you click a link or download an attachment that will infect your computer or con you into giving up your personal information. If you are worried about Swine Flu, the best source to check is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Website
. They provide you with reliable, up to date information on Swine Flu, including information about vaccinations, how to protect yourself, Swine Flu treatment, and more.
Swine Flu might be a scary thing, but the criminals out there using it to scam innocent people are the REAL sick ones.