It is a sad fact of life that online scammers are always quick to use events such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters to further their own nefarious ends. And the attack on Paris will likely be no exception. Although I have not yet seen any scams specifically related to the attack, past experience tells me that it is only a matter of time before they start appearing.
Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. So, in the coming days and weeks, be alert for scam messages that attempt to exploit news of the attack.
Criminals may distribute emails, text messages, or social media posts claiming to contain ‘breaking news’ or previously undisclosed information about the attack. The messages may appear to come from a legitimate news outlet and even include the news outlet’s logo and other elements that make it appear genuine at first glance. They may ask you to access the ‘news’ by clicking a link or opening an attached file. However, the linked websites or attached files will contain malware that can infect your computer. Rather than clicking links or opening attachments in such messages, it is safer to visit the website of the news outlet directly or perform a search via a news portal such as Google News. Any new or important information about the attack should be easily found by visiting or searching on mainstream news outlets.
In other variations, links in the posts may try to get you to disclose personal information via survey scam websites. If a message claims that, before being allowed to access the promised news story, you must first like and share the post and then participate in an online survey, do not proceed.
Scammers may also send out messages asking you to donate money to aid victims of the attack. The messages may look like they belong to legitimate charitable organisations such as the Red Cross. However, if you click the links in such messages you will be taken to a fake website designed to steal your credit card details and other personal information.
I sincerely hope that I’m wrong and that even the most callous scammer would not stoop so low as to attempt to capitalise on this dreadful event. But, given past experience, I suspect that my small hope will be in vain.
Last updated: November 14, 2015
First published: November 14, 2015
By Brett M. Christensen
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!