Death of Paul Walker Exploited to Trick Thousands of Facebook Users
Thousands of Facebook users have been fooled by scams that exploit actor Paul Walker’s death. Promising videos of the accident, users are instead tricked into sharing personal and financial information as they sign up for “free” memberships to the sites. Users never do see any video, but by that time the damage is done. Paul Walker, who played Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious series, died in a high-speed crash on November 30, 2013.
The social networking aspect of any scam only serves to make people more vulnerable. In the case of the videos, users are required to share the link or story on their timelines to continue through the process. The result of this “like-gate” is that the users’ friends see the story as a trusted recommendation and have a link to it before the original user finds out that the promise is a fraud. Scammers are counting on this viral effect to spread the links quickly before they can be exposed.
Users have become more wary of links shared by email, and some email systems offer protection against links to known “phishing” sites and sites that host malware. Social networking, however, is still new enough that criminals can more easily exploit the trust factor that the networks themselves depend on for their own profits.