updated 3/8/2013 1:21:18 PM ET 2013-03-08T18:21:18

Whenever there's a big story in the news — a natural disaster, an anticipated election, a celebrity death — you can be sure online scammers will try to exploit it.

So it is with the death this week of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Emails are circulating that blame the U.S. for Chávez's fatal cancer — but the most malignant things about the messages are the malicious links embedded in the text.

"Chávez was a leader who tried to free his people from the grip of people who will do anything to keep the consumer hostage," reads an email message spotted by Symantec's Carlos Mejia with a subject line similar to "Who Murdered Hugo Chavez?"

The text is adapted from a blog posting Wednesday (March 6) by Terrance Nelson, who identifies himself as vice chairman of the American Indian Movement, but adds links to purported videos where none were in Nelson's original.

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The links, which purportedly link to videos created by Nelson, actually point to sites hosted overseas that try to infect recipients with malware. (Symantec didn't specify what kind of malware it was.)

Email users, which is pretty much everyone, should always be aware of scams tied into big news events.

Don't forget the first rule of email: Never click on links in email messages you aren't expecting, even those from people you know.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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