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Osama scams: FBI sounds alarm

Asher Moses

May 4, 2011 – 7:58AM

An example of one of the scams going around on Facebook.An example of one of the scams going around on Facebook.

The FBI is warning computer users against unsolicited emails and social network posts purporting to show photos or videos of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The bureau says they may contain a virus that can steal personal identification information or infect a computer. Such malicious software could even be passed along unknowingly by a friend or family member.

The FBI urged the public to adjust privacy settings on social networking sites to make it more difficult for people to post material on their page.

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The image used in many of the scams is the fake picture of a dead Osama bin Laden that has been doing the rounds on social media – and even some mainstream media outlets like Channel Nine – over the last few days. The bloodied image of the corpse is a composite of two images – one a real picture of Bin Laden taken by Reuters in 1998.

Security firm McAfee provided some examples of the lures that are being used to trick people into opening the malicious links:

– “See video in which Osama bin Laden is shown holding a newspaper with today’s date and disprove his possible death reported by OBAMA.” (A purported link to a video supposedly disproving Osama bin Laden’s death)

– “OSAMA-BIN-Laden-aparece-segurando-jornal-com-a-data-de-hoje-obama-se-passa-por-mentiroso.exe” (A malicious executable purporting to offer photos of Osama bin Laden holding today’s paper – please see spam image attached)

– “fotos-do-osama-morto.exe” (A malicious executable purporting to offer photos of a dead Osama bin Laden)

– “pictures-of-osama-dead.exe” (A malicious executable purporting to offer photos of a dead Osama bin Laden)

David Marcus, director of security research at McAfee Labs has published more examples of the Osama scams on his blog.

One social network version of the scam asks users to copy and paste a script into their browser in order to see a video of bin Laden’s death.

“It certainly DOES NOT lead to the promised video because there is no released video! What it does do is spam your wall with messages trying to get people to do the same thing. Do not be fooled,” wrote Marcus.

Other links lead to fake anti-virus sites that try to con people into believing their computer is infected with viruses before charging them for a clean.

Kaspersky Lab reseacrhers Fabio Assolini said scammers were also poisoning search results in Google Images with links leading to malicious pages.

McAfee said people should be cautious and especially on guard when receiving messages that purport to offer photos of bin Laden’s body, funeral at sea or any other additional details.

– with AP   

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