Beware: Potential online scam uses Robin Williams’ death to get victims

Posted at 10:47 AM, Aug 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-15 13:06:39-04

DENVER – Whenever a major story dominates the news, scammers take advantage of the public’s interest with online photos, stories and social media links that claim to offer sensational details. The BBB of Denver/Boulder is warning about this tactic, which is called “click baiting.” Unfortunately, the bait that is being used right now involves the death of Robin Williams, including false claims of a “last words” video circulating on social media.

The BBB historically has seen con artists exploit tragedies in the following ways:

  • Impersonating victims or family members on social media
  • Selling memorabilia, often promising that some or all of the proceeds will go to charity
  • Posting teasers for sensational video footage or photos

Any of these tactics can lead to downloading malware on computers or smartphones, sharing personal information that can lead to identity theft, or providing information that can be sold and used for additional spamming.

Scammers also post sensational or emotional content as a way of collecting “likes” on a Facebook account. After enough “likes” and comments, they can turn around and sell the account for a profit.

The BBB offers the following tips to protect against “click bait” scams:

  • 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 following these instructions.
  • Report malware or spam on Twitter by following these instructions.

To find out more about scams or to report one, check out BBB Scam Stopper.