‘Clickbait’ scams use promises of ‘shocking videos’ to spread spam and malware

scam-alert-pic-150x150Anytime something makes the headlines or goes “viral,” scam artists are going to take advantage. BBB.org warns that fake version of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge have been making the rounds lately, but it could be anything that tempts you to click without thinking.

How the Scam Works:

Say you’re on Facebook, and see a teaser for a shocking video, “Tragic: Ice Bucket Challenge kills girl,” or something similar. You click the link, thinking it leads to a video site. Instead, a popup appears, telling you to “update your video player.” When you click “OK,” you aren’t getting a new version of some software. You are really downloading malware.

This scam has many variations. Sometimes the fake video does not lead to a virus, but rather some spammy websites prompting you to take a survey before viewing the video. Sharing your information can open you up to identity theft. Or, more likely, your information will be sold to spammers.  

Facebook isn’t the only platform for this scam. Watch out for similar links on Twitter and other social media or sent by email. 

Your BBB has the following advice to protect yourself from “clickbait” scams in email and social media:

  • 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. 
  • 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, report scam posts and other suspicious activity by following these instructions.
  • On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, report it to Twitter by following these instructions.