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updated 3/30/2011 9:19:12 AM ET 2011-03-30T13:19:12

A dangerous new work-from-home online scam is preying on a desperate and vulnerable demographic of people affected by the high unemployment rate.

The scam messages, which include titles such as "Earn $379 Per Day working from home on the Internet!" promise users a "Home Income Kit" described as a "100 percent risk free" guide to earning money from home.

What’s especially concerning to security experts is that the scam is not presented in the subject line of an e-mail, as many online hoaxes are, but rather it appears to come from the website of a credible news source, with logos and images from outlets including CNBC, Yahoo!, ABC, Twitter and CNN, and even an article accompanying the offer.

This is part of the scam’s two-pronged effectiveness: It looks legitimate, and it has a captive, curious and often desperate audience.

"Given the current unemployment rate, it’s alarming," said Eric Klein, Product Conversion Manager for software company PC Tools. "There’s a good chunk of the population looking for job opportunities, and this is targeting people that are already vulnerable."

People who receive the scam message are told to enter their credit card numbers. If they’re suspicious about that and choose not to, a pop-up then appears offering a live chat with an agent.

"People who need money are saying 'let me sign up,'" Klein told SecurityNewsDaily.

Klein said this work-from-home scam is luring in victims in the same ways cybercriminals use the latest movie or hot celebrity to draw curious web users to their fraudulent sites. Hot topics, Klein said, can land Web surfers in hot water.

"It’s a pressing issue for a lot of families, lots of families are working hard to get back on track financially, and when you see an opportunity to stay home with your family and make $300, you’ll think it’s too good to be true," said Klein.

He suggested people exercise caution when they see work-from-home offers, even if they appear to be from a well-known news source, and never to give out credit card information "unless you’re 100 percent sure who you’re giving it to."

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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