Google Plus scam hits the web

Geek glasses everywhere are currently steamed-up with the hot-off-the-press news that Google plus has become available to a small number of very lucky people.

The online world is going crazy for the Google plus invites – like an online version of golden tickets for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – as we all want a taste of what Google has come up with to try and wrestle the social media crown away from the mighty Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

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Thankfully there are a lot more than Wonka’s five golden tickets, but the demand is still pretty big. As a result, spammers are sneakily exploiting the desire for golden tickets/invites amongst the curious public. People appear to be willing to click anything to get their mitts on one of those elusive invites, which means online crooks are able to get the more gullible amongst you to click on a link to a spam website selling pills to “enhance” their sexual prowess and stamina or an online survey, which then earns the scammer a tidy little profit.

Current scams to look out for include one set up by a Canadian hacking group called Partnerka and results in you being sent to a Canadian Family Pharmacy website, which sells Viagra, according to antivirus company Sophos. Techie Buzz has also highlighted a YouTube video that claims that the uploader has a “Free key” for a Google plus invitation right away. You’ll then be told that you need to complete a two minute survey to download a “Google Plus key”, which is a cheap trick to get commission out of users completing the survey. These are just a couple of examples, with many springing up online – so be careful!

A quick checklist to avoid spam is as followed:

  • Emails from official sources will not ask for your social security, bank account or PIN number, or ask you to “verify your account”. Google will not ask you for emails and passwords or any private info, so don’t give them out.
  • Don’t click on links in emails. What might look like a legitimate address is often linked to a third-party site that looks official.
  • Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know.
  • Emails that start with “Dear member” or “Hello friend” are spam – as “proper” companies will certainly know your name.

Google Plus is available for free, so if there is a request for payment, then it is a scam.  Just remember that patience is a virtue…so don’t be a silly Wonka! Once you “buy” stuff from scam sites then you probably won’t receive the goods….and you will find that your card has been used to purchase a number of other items that you have no idea about.

Andrew is a copywriter for computer forensics experts Intaforenics.

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