Scam alert: links to ‘gory Paul Walker accident footage’ spreading malware

paul-walker-scam-11Anytime someone dies tragically, you can count on scam artists to take advantage.

The latest example is the Nov. 30 death of popular actor Paul Walker, known for his portrayal of street-racer Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious movie series. Scammers have jumped at the chance to exploit this recent tragedy for monetary gain.

Reports on the current “shocking video” scam can be found from Hoax-Slayer, Las Vegas Guardian Express, Softpedia and many other media outlets.

This practice has become all too common among scam artists. Often, the creators of these scams will blanket social media networks with posts and messages promising users gory video footage of a star’s demise or exclusive pictures of a crash scene. These kinds of scams are particularly pervasive due to their macabre nature, and people’s willingness to share the message, and unknowingly spread the scammer’s message.

Usually victims who fall for this scheme are prompted to click a link in a Newsfeed story or message in Facebook, a Tweet or Direct Message in Twitter, or even a link in an email sent to their personal address.

Facebook users are often prompted to install invasive applications that will access their personal information and send the scam message to all their friends. Other times, the scam message prompts the victim to install malicious browser extensions or malware that can be used to hijack the victim’s computer. These scams often involve survey scams which require victims to complete bogus surveys in order to view the “accident footage” or claim a reward.

It’s important to keep a few things in mind in order to spot scams like these and avoid falling prey to exploitative scammers.

  • Avoid clicking links from people and websites you don’t know
  • Don’t open emails from unfamiliar addresses
  • Don’t click a suspicious looking link sent from a friend, their account could have already been compromised
  • Avoid going to non-reputable news sources
  • Don’t share/rewteet social media posts like the ones mentioned above