updated 4/21/2011 2:53:03 PM ET 2011-04-21T18:53:03

The royal wedding is already proving to be a cause for celebration — for online scammers.

Several popular search terms related to next Friday’s highly anticipated wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton have been hijacked by cybercriminals, who’ve set up fraudulent websites infected with malicious software, the security firm ESET reports.

Type "Middleton wedding dress idea" into Google, for instance, and among your top results will be rogue sites.  They aim to bilk you out of money by warning you that your computer is infected with a virus, and then tricking you into purchasing fake antivirus software.

This royal scam uses two tactics popular among cybercriminals -- scareware, which preys on users’ ignorance and fear by convincing them their computers are in danger when they really aren’t, and poisoned SEO, a method of fooling search engines into ranking phony and dangerous websites at the top of their results.

Kate and William have been in cybercriminals’ crosshairs since their engagement last November, so it’s no surprise online thieves are rolling out the red carpet for their wedding.

Unfortunately, any time there’s an event of worldwide interest guaranteed to draw massive amounts of Internet traffic to certain key search terms -- last month's tsunami in Japan, for example — cybercriminals are always poised to pounce into action.

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