‘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
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!