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Hackers Exploit Virginia Tech Tragedy

by Brett M. Christensen

Internet bottom-feeders have already began to capitalize on the Virginia Tech tragedy. Emails are being distributed that contain a photograph of Virginia Tech shooter, Cho Seung Hui. Recipients are promised access to camera phone footage of the shooting if they click a link in the message.

However, clicking on the link downloads and installs a Trojan that can harvest data such as banking passwords and usernames.

Tragedies and disasters are often exploited by hackers and scammers very soon after the events unfold. As well as malware attacks like the one discussed above, such “disaster” scams may also take the form of fraudulent requests for donations, phishing scams that try to trick people into handing over their personal information, and Nigerian style scams that falsely promise large fees in exchange for helping to distribute funds to victims of the tragedy.

Internet users should remain alert for scams of this nature over the coming weeks and months. Be wary of any emails concerning the Virginia Tech shootings. Do not click on links or open attachments in these emails unless you are certain of their veracity. If you donate money to help victims of the tragedy, ensure that you give via a legitimate charitable organization. If you donate online, make sure that you are using the genuine website of the charitable organization and not a spoof website designed to steal your information. Links in bogus donation emails may point to such fake websites.

Remember that the morally debased individuals who orchestrate such scams will not hesitate to use even the most terrible human tragedies for their own ends. They willingly exploit our natural desire to try to understand such tragedies, our heart-felt empathy and our desire to help victims in order to steal from us.

We can all help to thwart these heinous activities by remaining vigilant, keeping our computers secure, and ensuring that other Internet users are also aware of such threats.

Malware attack poses as camera phone footage of Virginia Tech tragedy
Malware spam promises Virginia Tech video

Importance Notice

After 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 You

I 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 Date

Hoax-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!

Brett Christensen,