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Facebook and Twitter scammers take advantage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash

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by Jamie Hinks
, 21 Jul 2014News
Facebook and Twitter scammers take advantage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash

Online scammers are taking advantage of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for illicit means after various social networking pages fell victim to a number of different scams.

Related: Russian media outlet rewrites Wikipedia history in wake of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 disaster

Links to pornographic sites as well as tweets including links to spam websites are exploiting the disaster that took place last week in disputed territory and an anti-spam figure called for the social media sites to remove the links.

One link, which was posted to a Facebook tribute page, masquerades as a video showing the crash and redirects to a pornographic site whereas tweets have been used by spammers to increase the hits to certain sites.

"It is a fairly rapid and predictable response by the individuals behind it. They are all to make money. There is no compassion involved," said Richard Cox, CIO at Spamhaus, according to the BBC.

The Facebook page in question pays tribute to English victim Liam Sweeney with a picture and his name used and a sole post in the shape of a video titled “video camera caught the moment MH17 crash over Ukraine”. Any user that clicks it is then taken to an external site and asked for their phone number for age verification purposes.

"Whoever it is now has your caller ID and you could get a lot of nuisance calls," said Mr Cox. "This is all based on a somewhat tasteless video that probably doesn't exist and is presented in a completely tasteless way."

Twitter, meanwhile, was flagged up by TrendMicro and it has been suggested that pages have used the disaster to drive more traffic to certain sites and generate more advertising revenue.

TrendMicro added that this is by no means the first time a disaster has been exploited for this purpose and that the coming days will see a further escalation in the amount of tweets being used.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson has been in contact with ITProPortal, saying, "We are disabling these profiles as soon as we are made aware of them. We encourage people to block those responsible and report suspicious behaviour to our team of experts via our reporting buttons so that we can quickly take the appropriate action."

Image credit: Flickr (Aero Icarus)

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