BBB alert: Scammers using Robin Williams’ death to ‘click bait’ Internet users

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Scammers are using a tragic story to take advantage of Internet users in a tactic called “click baiting.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, it’s being used in light of the death of Robin Williams, who passed away earlier this week.

The BBB says when a major story dominates the news, the scammers take advantage of the public’s interest with photos, stories and social media links that claim to offer sensational details.

BBB says an example of the scam is a link to a video that claims it contains unreleased police footage from the scene of Williams’ death. Another example is a post claiming to have Williams’ last words before he died.

The BBB says Internet users should be cautious when clicking on any such links, downloading pictures or purchasing commemorative souvenirs unless on an established website with built-in buyer protections. Any of those actions can lead to malware being downloaded on computers or smart phones and personal information being shared.

The BBB says scammers also post the sensational or emotion content as a way of collecting “likes” on a Facebook account. When they get enough “likes” and comments, they can sell the account for a profit.

The BBB provides this list of tips to protect against scammers:

  • Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.
  • Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
  • Don’t trust your “friends” online. It might not actually be your friends who are “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked and scammers could be using another tactic called “clickjacking.” Clickjacking is a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on social media links that you would not usually click on.
  • Report scam posts on Facebook by clicking here.
  • Report malware or spam on Twitter by clicking here.

For more on the scams, click here.

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