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Fake Malaysian Airline News
The following was posted on BBB's Consumer News & Opinion Blog on April 1, 2014
April 02, 2014

By Emily Patterson, American Forest Foundation

The world is eager for news about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. So eager, in fact, that scammers are taking advantage of our curiosity. Don’t fall for click bait teasers promoting exclusive footage of found passengers. It sounds like a sick April Fool’s joke, but it’s a real scam.

How the Scam Works:

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.

Tips to Protect Yourself From “Click Bait” Scams:

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.
  • Check a link's real destination. Instead of clicking, right-click on a link, hit "Copy Link Address", then paste into an open document or something similar. This allows you to see where the link will take you without actually putting yourself at risk.

See more at BBB's Consumer News & Opinions Blog.