Malaysia Airlines Tragedy Used by Scammers

Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is alerting consumers to beware “Click Bait” scams revolving around the Malaysia Airlines tragedy in Ukraine where a passenger liner was shot down with all aboard killed.
August 11, 2014

Scammers are using Facebook to post false items about the tragedy that catch your attention. It appears to be from the account of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victim, and the post seems to link to information on the lost passengers or sensational footage of the tragedy.

If someone clicks on the link, instead of being directed to news on the horrible incident, consumers receive a barrage of spam ads for online gambling and other similar products.

Scammers love to take advantage of the hype surrounding major news stories -- especially tragedies. In addition to impersonating victims or family members on Facebook, con artists also post teasers for video footage relating to the event.

Consumers clicking on the link are prompted to "update your video player" (scam-speak for download malware) or take a survey before viewing.  Doing either of these can open you up to identity theft or give scammers information (such as email addresses and cell phone numbers) they can sell to spammers.

Scammers also post sensational or emotional content as a way of collecting "likes" on a Facebook account. After enough "likes" and comments, they can turn around and sell the account for a profit.

Tips to Protect Yourself From "Click Bait" Scams: 

  • Don't take the bait. Stay away from promotions of "exclusive," "shocking" or "sensational" footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam. Stick to real news sites for legitimate coverage of big news events.
  • Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don't click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
  • Don't trust your friends' taste online. It might not actually be them "liking" or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked. But it may also be clickjacking, a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking something that you wouldn't otherwise (especially the Facebook "Like" button).
  • On Facebook or Twitter, report scam posts and other suspicious activity.

Start with Trust. Check with the BBB before doing business at BBB works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.