The most common ploys are e-mails offering a peek at what's said to be unseen pictures and videos of Jackson performing or samples of music the "King of Pop" never released. The e-mails contain attachments that when clicked on release a worm or virus, or provide links to bogus Web sites that collect personal information.
Spammers and scammers are generally quick to take advantage of major news events such as the recent swine flu outbreak or a major disaster such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed thousands in 2004, or the death of a globally recognized figure like Jackson.
Sophos, a maker of computer security software, has issued a warning about an Internet virus that's transmitted in an e-mail with the subject line "Remembering Michael Jackson" and is sent from "email@example.com, according to the company. The e-mail says a Zip file attachment contains secret songs and pictures of Jackson, but when opened the user's computer is infected with a worm that begins spreading to the user's e-mail contacts.
Symantec, another security application developer, said Wednesday that the proliferation of Michael Jackson-related scams and malware is greater than the Independence Day-related Internet scams the company usually sees at this time of year.
Internet scammers, like everyone else, were taken by surprise by Jackson's sudden death last week. But the volume of Michael Jackson-related malware and Web scams has been growing quickly in recent days, according to a story by the Associated Press.
There is an e-mail circulating that promises an exclusive look at a YouTube video of the "last work of Michael Jackson," the AP story said. Instead users get a malicious program that steals their passwords. Another e-mail entices recipients with a look at the "latest unpublished photos" of Jackson and includes a link that also installs a program that steals passwords, according to the story.
Other e-mails lure users to fake Web sites that either install malware or trick users into disclosing personal information.
An e-mail currently making its way around Britain purports to be from Tamla Motown founder Barry Gordy and offers the chance to win free Michael Jackson CDs, according to a story on the Web site of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
On the day Jackson died Sophos detected what it said was the first Internet scam, an e-mail that promised a "breaking news video" and directed users to a bogus Web site.
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