This story was first published on August 5, 2015
According to an ‘urgent’ warning that is circulating rapidly via social media, you should watch out for a video clip that claims to show a Malaysian Airlines aircraft crashing into the sea. The message claims that the video clip contains a virus.
The message does contain elements of truth. It is presumably referencing doomed Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared in March 2014.
Back in 2014, callous scammers certainly did capitalise on the MH370 tragedy. Bogus messages falsely claimed that the aircraft had been found and that users could click a link to view video footage of the downed plane. These links pointed to rogue apps, survey scams, and malware websites.
So, it is true that people should be careful of clicking links in messages claiming to have video footage of flight MH370.
That said, I have not found any credible information about a current malware threat like the one described in the warning message.
The message gives little information about how the supposed virus video clip is distributed. It does not say if the virus message is circulating via social media, email, or some other means. It implies that the ‘virus’ may be targeting banking details on mobile phones but does not say if the threat applies to other platforms such as computers. Nor does the message contain any references that might allow people to get more information on the supposed threat.
The message seems to be an abridged variant of another garbled and misleading virus warning message that began circulating soon after MH370 disappeared. Such vague and outdated virus warning messages can be counterproductive because they do not contain current information about security threats that people can act upon and they may simply cause further confusion.
Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that scammers almost always use news of disasters such as plane crashes or earthquakes to trick people into participating in scams or installing malware. Thus, it is certainly wise to use caution if you receive messages about such disasters.
An Example of the circulating warning message.
Urgent attention : someone is spreading a video clip on a MAS(Malaysian Airlines) flight crashing into the sea. Please do not open. Immediately delete it as it contains a virus. Especially those mobile phones who have mobile banking. Please forward this msg to others (Its in the news also)
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!