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Scammers take advantage of Flight 370 hype

By Chandler Pecora
On March 21, 2014

Watch out - if you come across a link involving shocking information regarding missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on social media websites, you might be walking right into a scam.

Online scammers have been taking advantage of the buzz involving the missing jet to create untrue stories about it, and posting the imaginary information - along with unrelated links to another web page - onto popular sites like Facebook and Twitter.

False info and misleading links are expertly designed by scammers to trick users into clicking on them, which can make the scammers money and, sometimes, result in unintended consequences for their victims.

"Video of Malaysia MH370 Plane found in Bermuda Triangle! Passengers alive!" one headline on Facebook reads. When clicked on, the resulting website forces users to share the link with their friends to gain access to the page with the alleged video, and once there, tells them to complete an undetermined amount of surveys to watch it.

Of course, the video in question does not actually exist, and the information stated in the headline is pure speculation.

Links to the surveys have been known to carry malware and spyware that could potentially harm victims' computers, and personal information users share in surveys may lead to undesired contact and charges to their phones or credit cards.

"The fact that something like that is happening is sad," Wes Kennedy, mechanical engineering major, said. "There is no reason to fabricate false information like that."

"Them posting false stories and lies is flat out wrong," Alex Hill, music education major, said. "It makes me mad that they would post fake articles like that, because they're obviously misleading the public."

Students are encouraged to practice caution when choosing links to click on.

"We can't do much about the individuals happy to trade on someone else's misery, but we can certainly contribute towards putting a dent in their moneymaking ambitions," Christopher Boyd, writer for Malwarebytes, said.

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