“Breaking news” post circulating via social media claims that popular US actor Brad Pitt has been found dead. The post purports to be from Fox News.
Brad Pitt is not dead. The post is not from Fox News and does not link to a genuine news report. Clicking the post opens a clickbait website that tries to trick you into installing rogue Facebook apps, paying for rogue antivirus scanners, downloading malware, or divulging your personal information on suspect survey and get rich quick websites.
According to a “breaking news” post that is currently circulating rapidly via Facebook and other social media sites, famous US actor Brad Pitt has been found dead. The post, which purports to be from Fox News and features a picture of the star along with Fox News logos, claims that the actor hanged himself.
However, the claims in the post are untrue. Brad Pitt is not dead and he has not attempted suicide. The post is not associated with Fox News in any way. And, there are no credible news reports that support the death claims.
In fact, the post is a callous and reprehensible attempt to drive traffic to a scam website. If you click on the post, you will be taken to a website that appears to host a number of “news” videos. A popup post will urge you to like the page and then install a Facebook app. Once enabled, the app may post further scam messages via your account.
You will then be automatically redirected to one of a large number of suspect websites.
You may see a message that falsely claims that a virus has been detected on your computer and you must immediately deal with the issue by clicking a link. The link opens a phoney virus scanner that will claim that it has found a number of dangerous viruses on your computer. It will then claim that you must pay a fee to get the software required to remove the viruses. In reality, the scanner is completely fake and it did not find any viruses at all. The warnings are just a trick to get you to divulge your credit card details to scammers.
Or, you may be told that you must update a video player plugin to view the supposed news content. However, the “plugin” is actually malware that can hijack your browser, redirect you to scam websites, and display malicious advertising.
Or, you may be redirected to sites that invite you to join a program that will supposedly make you very large amounts of money for very little effort. These sites will try to entice you to buy utterly useless software that they claim you will need to make the “get rich” system work.
Or, you may be taken to “prize offer” websites that claim that you can win prizes in exchange for providing your name and contact details and filling in surveys. But, alas, the information you provide will be shared with third-party marketing companies, so you will be subsequently inundated with promotional phone calls, text messages, emails, and surface letters.
Bogus reports that claim that a famous person has committed suicide are especially reprehensible and the people who perpetrate them are beneath contempt. Mental health experts have found an increase in suicide rates after media reports about celebrity suicides. Thus, a heinous scam like this one could have deadly consequences.
Celebrity death scams like this one are very common. Be wary of any social media message that claims that a celebrity has died. It is wise to verify the claims in such posts before you click on them or share them. If a high-profile celebrity does die, then the news is always extensively covered by the mainstream news media. Thus, searching a news portal such as Google News, should quickly reveal if a circulating celebrity death report is true.
Last updated: September 22, 2016
First published: September 22, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen