‘News’ posts currently appearing on Facebook and other social media sites are claiming that ISIS attacks have killed and wounded people in various Australian cities and towns including Geelong, Geraldton, and Atherton. Clicking the posts opens a ‘World Current Events’ website that features a report with details about the supposed attack. The report claims that seven people have been killed and 11 wounded in various shootings across the named city or town.
However, the claims in the report are outright lies. No such attacks have occurred in any of the specified locations. And, all of the reports are identical except for the name of the city or town used in the headline and opening sentence. The bogus news report is a scam designed to trick you into buying rogue antivirus software or opening spam websites peddling dodgy products and services.
When you first arrive at the fake news report, a popup window will appear that claims that a five-year-old girl is missing. The popup asks you to click a link to share the information. However, if you hit the share button on the popup or attempt to close it by clicking the ‘X’ in the corner, you will be automatically redirected to one of the spam websites.
In some cases, the webpage you are taken to claims that you have been infected by a virus and should perform a scan. If you then click the ‘scan’ button the site will run a process that appears to scan your computer for malware. The supposed scan is entirely fake and is certainly not scanning your files as claimed.
However, the fake scan will pretend to find and identify one or more viruses on your computer and claim that you should urgently download an anti-virus product to deal with the issue. However, the supposed antivirus product is itself a form of malware and will demand that you pay a fee before it deals with the – non existent – viruses it claims to have discovered on your computer.
In other cases, you will be redirected to generic websites about fashion, food, health, and celebrities that in turn link to other spammy websites that try to get you to part with your money and personal information.
This campaign is similar to earlier fake news posts that falsely claimed that ISIS terrorist attacks had occurred in various locations across the UK.
If a fake ISIS attack post like those shown below appears on your social media feeds, do not click it. If a terrorist attack does take place, it will be extensively covered by legitimate news outlets. A quick search via a news portal such as Google News should reveal if a post claiming that there has been a terrorist attack is legitimate.
Last updated: February 11, 2016
First published: February 11, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen