Which events make the best fodder for criminal social engineers?

Apparently playing to concern, excitement, or a fascination with the gruesome makes people more likely to fall for scams.

This is an odd counterpoint to an old management adage — that fear and coercion make the worst motivators. (Consider what happens at organizations oriented more to controlling their employees than letting them be open and happy. Just that element of ‘we own you’ makes the workday toxic.)

The scammers’ victims have to want what the scammers pretend to offer. And they have to want it badly enough to ignore that bit of “this might be a scam” in their minds.

I find it particularly interesting to see celebrity deaths ranked so highly. That concern or excitement correlate negatively with certain kinds of critical thinking, sure. But gore?

Maybe it’s just a certain love of vicarious destruction that captivates people.


“Every major event is exploited by cybercriminals to deliver malware. Based on your research, what events are targeted the most? What are the biggest threats to those searching for information about these events?

The more people feel concerned with the event, the bigger the game and the easier the hoax.

You can group these past years’ major events into 3 categories:

1. Disaster relief (earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, nuclear disaster in Fukushima, famine in Somalia…) Cybercriminals will prey on the sympathy for the victims, using legitimate charity credentials to collect donations into accounts they control. These guys are looking for money, credit card numbers and personal details. So, if you want to donate, use the official Website, or send your donation to the official offices, heck, you can even go to the offices. Just don’t reply to unsolicited emails.

2. Sporting events (FIFA EuroCup, 2012 Olympics) – Before, during and after the event come a flurry of scams ranging from fake game tickets, fake hotel rooms, betting scams, fake lotteries… cybercriminals are hunting for money and personal details. So, if you want the real deal, buy the real tickets, from the real official seller.

3. Celebrities (especially death) – Cybercriminals try to arouse base instincts by luring people in with gory and shocking video footage or pictures. The idea behind the scam is to steal credentials (especially on social networking sites such as Facebook), and/or install malware on your computer, thereby giving cybercriminals access to sensitive data and computer resources. So, if you want shocking images, rent a horror movie or just watch the news.”

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