Cyber criminal scams prey on Jobs' death already

New Yorkers place flowers, notes and apples outside the Apple store at Fifth Avenue to pay respect to Steve Jobs.
New Yorkers place flowers, notes and apples outside the Apple store at Fifth Avenue to pay respect to Steve Jobs.Samantha Murphy / TechNewsDaily
/ Source: SecurityNewsDaily

As millions around the world mourn the loss of Apple co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs, opportunistic online crooks have already begun to cook up schemes exploiting the tragedy for their own benefit.

One such scam, spotted by researcher Dmitri Bestuzhev from the security firm Kaspersky Lab, is a fake contest you can enter for the chance to win "1 of 15 MacBook Pros in memory of Steve Jobs!" Beneath the enticing offer is a space to enter your email address; while you won't win a new laptop, the chances of you winning a whole new batch of spam emails are high.

Another part of the scam Bestuzhev found was the chance to see exclusive photos and video footage from Steve Jobs' funeral. Below a header reading, "The Life, Death, and Legacy of Steve Jobs," the message says, "Video footage and images will be here uploaded live from the funeral ceremony. Check back each day to see if they are posted."

These scams are similar to one found spreading on Facebook Thursday claiming that 50 free iPads are being given away in memory of the former Apple chief executive officer. The messages come from an account named "R.I.P. Steve Jobs," according to the security firm Sophos, and redirect those who fall for the trick first to a survey page, and then to an online casino website.

For now, these scams don't appear to infect victims' computers with any malicious software, but that could quickly change.

"Chances are that this won't be the only scam we see regarding the untimely death of Steve Jobs," Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley wrote. "It wouldn't be a surprise, for instance, to see scams which might try to take advantage of those moved by the loss of Apple's founder with lures like 'Donate to Steve's favorite charities as a tribute.'"

This type of plea, to honor the memory of a loved one or victims of a tragedy, is a cyber rcrime tactic often deployed during major catastrophes that see people flocking to the Web for details. It happened after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and following the massive quake in New Zealand the week before, and it would not be surprising if cyber crooks go after people's emotions surrounding Steve Jobs' death in a similar way.