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Email Scams Spoofing Social Networking Sites Peddle Malicious Sites


We saw samples of email messages disguised as notifications from popular networking sites, in particular LinkedIn, foursquare, MySpace, and Pinterest. These spam contain links that direct users to bogus pharmaceutical or fraud sites. They also use legitimate-looking email addresses to appear credible to recipients. Using famous brands like these sites are effective in luring users to the scheme as this gives credence to an otherwise obvious scam.

Fake foursquare Email Notifications

We uncovered spammed messages masked as notifications from foursquare, a popular location-based social networking site. The first sample we found pretends to be an email alert, stating that someone has left a message for the recipient. The second message is in the guise of a friend confirmation notification.

Both messages use the address [email protected] in the ‘From’ field and bear a legitimate-looking MessageID. Similar to previous spam campaign using popular social networking sites, attackers here also disguised the malicious URLs. If users click these, the URLs direct to an empty web page containing another URL, which ultimately leads to a website selling sex-enhancement drugs.

Bogus LinkedIn, MySpace Messages Direct to “Wiki Pharmacy”

My colleague Neil Pondo also spotted sample messages that are purportedly from LinkedIn and Myspace. LinkedIn is a site specifically for professionals, while Myspace is a popular music website.

Both samples are disguised as confirmation email from these web sites. The messages contain links that supposedly direct users to the respective legitimate sites.

Similar to the fake foursquare email, these messages use email addresses that appear legitimate such as [email protected] and [email protected], respectively. Recipients are asked by these mails to check out the provided link either to confirm their email address (for the spoofed LinkedIn) or cancel their account (fake MySpace email).

Upon further analysis, we have identified that the senders’ info were forged. We also did not find any pertinent details that could identify these messages as legitimate LinkedIn and MySpace email notifications. These mails also used cloaked URLs that redirect to the fake site “Wiki Pharmacy”.

Scam Message Disguised as Pinterest Lead to Fraud Site

The growing popularity of Pinterest have also caught the eye of cybercriminals. Previously, we noted a scam circulating in the photo-sharing site. This time, we found fake Pinterest email notifications that contain a URL, a purported online article on weight-loss. Users who click this link are instead lead to sites that were previously found to engage in fraud activities.

Trend Micro protects users from this threat via Trend MicroT Smart Protection NetworkT, which blocks these messages and the related malicious sites. Users are advised to always be cautious of dubious-looking messages and avoid clicking links or downloading the attachment included in these.

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