BBB warns of swine flu scams - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

BBB warns of swine flu scams

MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- Several days after the swine flu outbreak, scammers are taking advnatage of the major news story and international concern.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning people to be on the look-out for fraudulent emails about swine flu.

"Scammers read newspapers, watch TV and surf the Internet and they know that by using a hook from the day's top headlines, that they'll be able to catch lots of fish," said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. "Right now, issues associated with swine flu and a potential pandemic are of global interest and that means scammers have a very large pond to go phishing in. Sadly, although we see this as a tragedy, scammers see this as an opportunity," wrote Hoth in an email to reporters.

In the BBB's email, executives warned:

McAffe says spammers began sending e-mails as soon as the first accounts of swine flu were being reported in the news, accounting for two percent of all spam messages.

The messages include such subject lines as, "Madonna caught swine flu!" and "Swine flu in Hollywood!" The company reports that the e-mails do not contain malware but often link to online pharmacies.

Another company warned people started registering web domains and selling services, such as the "Swine Flu Survival Guide" for $19.95.

Tops from the BBB in its email include:

  • Avoid opening e-mail from an unknown source and do not click on any links in the body of the e-mail or open any attachments. Instead, delete the e-mail or report it to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding the e-mail to
  • Don't believe online offers for vaccinations against swine flu because a vaccine does not exist. For more information on swine flu and updates on progress in fighting the outbreak, go to
  • Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date and all operating system security patches have been installed. If your computer becomes infected as the result of a spam e-mail about swine flu, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at
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