Missing plane used in online scam

A gang of cyber thieves have tried to exploit people's hunger for news on the missing AirAsia jet.

Claiming the plane had safely landed in Tacloban, Philippines, the gang created a Facebook link which took users to a phishing site disguised as a CNN webpage. 

The Australia Edition of International Business Times reported that the Facebook link claims to have a video of Flight QZ8501. But clicking it takes readers to a bogus CNN web page with a fake video.

Users who click the link are redirected to a pop-up window that first gets you to like and share the link before insisting that you key in your personal details for a survey.

The survey asks for the reader's mobile number and personal details, supposedly to enter a draw to win prizes. But by providing their mobile number, they are actually signing up for an ongoing SMS service that will charge them several dollars for every text message they send.


Once readers have keyed in their name and contact details, they may also receive calls from telemarketers.

Mr James Tan, an IT forensics consultant from Infinity Forensics, said this was phishing.

He said: "It is very common for hackers to use popular events to get personal information to do any other illegal activity."

This can be avoided by using different usernames and passwords on different sites, he added.

Mr Alex Nian, manager of IT firm SecureIT-NET, agreed that hackers use current issues to target curious netizens.

He said: "When people are interested to find out about the latest developments, they might compromise on cyber security by clicking on unknown links."

He advises netizens not to do so, even if the links are shared by their friends on social media.

He said: "It's better to be cautious. Your friends may not know they have been hacked. It's better to get information from reputable news sources."


This article was first published on Dec 30, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.