Madonna and swine flu? What’s the connection?

Scammers and spammers are taking advantage of the global swine flu scare to sell counterfeit drugs and steal credit card inormation using fake donation sites and spam email, Internet security experts warned.

And these cybercriminals are even using celebrities to catch the attention of victims, using email titles such as “Madonna caught swine flu!” and “Swine flu in Hollywood!”. The emails contain links to websites that collect donations, peddle malware, fake pills and bogus swine flu survival guides.

When victims go to purchase any products offered by the spammers, the details of their credit cards are stolen.

McAfee, a leading security software company, noted that scammers have registered domain names that included “swine” in their names were up by thirty-fold. It said that one of the new sites, noswineflu.com, is even selling a PDF document called “Swine Flu Survival Guide” for 19.95 dollars.

Another internet security company, F-Secure, has come up with a list of 146 swine flu-related internet sites that have been registered over the last few days by scammers looking to make money online from the swine flu scare.

Some even offer free downloads of supposed swine flu survival kits, which are actually programs that steal private information from the victims’ computers.

The US Government-run Computer Emergency Readiness Team, US-CERT, has warned the public not to open any malicious links or attachments as they may be directed to a phishing website or exposed to malicious code. Official information can be found on the website of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

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