3OYS: Cyber crooks take advantage of missing Malaysian flight

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Felicia Thompson with the Phoenix Better Bureau has put out a consumer alert related to the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

"This is pretty low," she said. "Obviously, there are families out there who are missing their loved ones and have no idea what happened to them."

It remains a huge mystery -- the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines plane and the 239 people on board. Thompson said crooks are trying to profit from that mystery.

"With the Malaysian Airlines plane still missing, scammers have taken the opportunity to use our curiosity and our concern about the passengers and the flight itself to mislead us," she said.

Thompson explained that scammers are posting outrageous claims online.

"There was one of the postings saying that the plane had been found in the Bermuda Triangle," she said.

Another image that claimed the plane was found actually pictured the U.S. Airways plane that landed in the Hudson River a few years back, Thompson said.

Crooks even used photo editing software to change the name on a downed plane.

"They're asking you to click on the video link, and a lot of times it'll have a popup window saying you need to update your video player and once you do, you're actually downloading malware to your computer."

Thompson said crooks are turning to social media and email to generate revenue.

"What they're doing specifically is on Facebook they're using these posts saying that the plane has been found, that the passengers are still alive," Thompson said. "They're pretty much tricking you into clicking on these links, which end up downloading malware or ask you for personal information."

To protect yourself from the so-called "click bait scam," Thompson suggests watching for words that make the posts appear sensational, such as "exclusive" and "shocking."

She said any major incident like the missing plane or natural disaster like the recent earthquake in Chile brings out the scammers, so we need to be smarter.

"We just know that with any natural disaster or natural occurrence event that someone is going to take advantage of us," she said. "They’re going to use our curiosity, our interest, our concern to pull at our heartstrings and get us to click on a link, send money, go to a website that's not legitimate."