BBB warns of scam exploiting Robin William's death

BBB warns of scam exploiting Robin William's death

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that there are scammers out there trying to make a quick buck off the tragic death of Robin Williams. They prey on your emotions, and those looking to do good in the wake of the comedian and actors passing.

"You may see something like 'see his suicide note,' or something bizarre like autopsy photos. It gets people to click on these sites," said Sue McConnell with the Cleveland BBB.

It's called a "click bait" scam. They push potential victims to links of his photo, souvenirs or other phony websites.

"What you're doing is putting viruses on your computer," warned McConnell.

That can also give them access to your personal information.

Along with these scams, there are fake charities, scammers set up to try and get your money.

"They are trying to make themselves seem legitimate, possible asking for donations to help with depression," McConnell said.

Don't fall for it. Always research charities on the websites like the BBB.

The entire press release sent out by the National BBB:

August 14, 2014

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. This tactic is called "click baiting." Unfortunately, the bait that is being used right now involves the death of Robin Williams. BBB warns consumers about clicking on links, downloading pictures or purchasing commemorative souvenirs, unless you are on an established website with built-in buyer protections.

Con artists exploit tragedies in these 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 your computer or smartphone, sharing personal information that can lead to identity theft, or providing information that can be 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.

Tips to Protect Yourself from "Click Bait" Scams: 

BBB urges consumers to take steps to protect yourself from scams shared through email and social media: 

  • 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.

For More Information:

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

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