The world is eager for news about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. So eager, in fact, that scammers are taking advantage of that curiosity. Don't fall for click bait teasers promoting exclusive footage of found passengers. While it sounds like a sick April Fool's joke, it is currently a real scam.
So, how does this scam work? You are on Facebook, and a post catches your attention. "Video of Malaysia MH370 Plane Found in Bermuda Triangle. Passengers alive," it teases. Another popular version promises: "[NEWS FLASH] Missing Plane Has Been Found!"
You click the link, thinking it leads to a news site. Instead, you are taken to an unfamiliar, third party website. A pop up may appear prompting you to "update your video player." But when you click "OK," you aren't getting a new software version. You are really downloading malware.
Like all scams, this has many variations. Another common version asks you to take a survey before viewing the video. In the worst case, sharing your information can open you up to identity theft. Even more likely, your information will end up getting sold to spammers.
This scam is also not to limited Facebook. Watch out for similar links posted on Twitter, through other social media or sent by email.
Take the following steps to protect yourself and others from scam links shared through email and social media:
Don't take the bait. Stay away from promotions of "exclusive," "shocking" or "sensational" footage. If it sounds too outlandish (Bermuda Triangle, really?) to be true, it is probably a scam.
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 or duplicated. 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, report scam posts and other suspicious activity by clicking the report link near the posting or by going to their help page.
On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, click the gear button and choose “report spam” on the offender’s profile page.
Social media opens many avenues to keep up to date on the latest news events; unfortunately scam artists are watching the news in order to develop their next scam. Avoid clicking on those sensationalized links and confirm stories using a reputable news outlet before sharing or retweeting it.
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.
Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA, Inc. serving 41 counties in Central Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Web site: www.bbb.org or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com