BBB Warns of Online Scams in the Wake of Osama’s Death

May 05, 2011
In the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden this past weekend, Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for a slew of cyber-scams that have popped up in the past few days.

According to Kaspersky Labs, an Internet security firm, malicious websites and links have been proliferating on Google Images searches, Facebook, and other social media sites.

On Facebook, a fake video purporting to show the death of Bin Laden prompts users to input a malicious URL into their browsers, which could infect their computer with a virus. Kaspersky also reports that other Facebook scams lure victims to malicious Facebook Pages with promises of free airplane tickets, and other “free” offers to “celebrate Osama’s death.”

Consumers and businesses should also be very wary of scams similar to the Nigerian Letter Scam circling around Osama’s death. Although each letter may contain a slightly different appeal, BBB is reporting that the latest letter has stated a "soldier" asking for assistance in transferring millions of dollars of excess money to a trustworthy U.S. citizen. To participate in the deal, the person must contact the soldier to solidify the partnership and arrange pickup of the millions.

Usually with this type of scam the victim is asked to provide their bank account number and the name, address, phone and fax numbers of their bank. Using the provided information, the con artists can then plunder the victim's bank account. Or they may try to get money directly by requesting exorbitant payments to cover transfer fees, travel expenses, taxes, or necessary bribes before the transaction can occur. Needless to say, no one has ever received the promised funds, and losses from participating in illegal foreign business deals are nearly impossible to recover.

BBB advises consumers to do the following if they feel they have fallen victim to a cyber-scam:

Think before you click.
Be mindful about clicking on links that purport to show information that’s not widely available from respected news sources. In the case of Bin Laden, no photos or videos related to his death have been released. Be extremely skeptical of links that say otherwise.

Don’t fall for the not-so-free “free” offer.
Be wary of free offers “celebrating” any sort of occasion, especially if the offer comes from a company or website you haven’t heard of before. Often times all it takes for a scammer to infect your computer with a virus is clicking on one bad link.

Spread the word. Discuss such scams with all the members of your family who have access to the Internet. Young people are very computer savvy, but may not be scam savvy, and older adults are specifically targeted by scammers because they are often very trusting.

Know the red flags. Watch out for grammatical mistakes in emails, letters and on websites. Poor grammar or misspelled words are red flags that the email or website is probably a scam. Most importantly, never wire money based on instructions. Scammers prey on those who think they need to wire money to have a situation resolved.

Check with BBB.
BBB advises anyone receiving such a letter not to respond. Instead, send the letter to your local BBB or to the U.S. Secret Service, which is currently investigating the scam.

For more information on how consumers can protect themselves against scams, or to find reputable businesses they can visit