Beware of clicking on supposed goodbye videos of the late actor-comedian Robin Williams. You could fall prey to an online scam that definitely lacks humor. According to Symantec, the scam targets Facebook users by claiming to be a link to a supposed goodbye video by Williams on a fake BBC webpage.
“There is no video. Users that click on the link to the supposed video are taken to a fake BBC News website. As with many social scams, users are required to perform actions before they can view the content. In this case, users are instructed to share the video on Facebook before watching,” Symantec security response manager Satnam Narang said in a blog post.
According to the post, the scams may have started as early as 48 hours after the news broke out about Williams’ death. The fake site will ask users to install either a fake Facebook media plugin – or fill out a survey.
“Over the years, scammers have used both real and fake celebrity deaths as a way to convince users to click on links and perform actions. From Amy Winehouse and Paul Walker to the fake deaths of Miley Cyrus and Will Smith, scammers are opportunistic and always looking for ways to capitalize,” Narang reminded the public.
“Scammers operating these sites use affiliate programs to earn money for the completion of surveys and file downloads,” said Narang, who added Symantec has alerted Facebook about this.
The post advised Internet users to be ‘vigilant and skeptical’ when reading sensational stories on social media sites.
“Don’t install applications or do surveys in order to view gated content. It’s a trick to put money in the pockets of scammers and your computer or device is at risk to malware. Visit trusted news sources for information. Instead of clicking on random links online, go directly to your trusted news source,” Narang said.
Even the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning about a similar scam. “Basically someone clicks on a link to view information or video about Williams, but instead it tells you to download a player, which is really a virus,” it said.
BBB also suggested some useful tips to keep in mind in order to prevent being bait to such scams:
- 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 online. It might not actually be your friends who are liking or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked and scammers could be using another tactic called clickjacking. Clickjacking is a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on social media links that you would not usually click on.