Published on March 12th, 2014 | by admin

Scammers Turn to Facebook for Targeting

Facebook ads promoting pharmaceuticals and designer knockoffs recall dangerous spammer techniques

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, March 12, 2014 – Scammers are increasingly taking advantage of Facebook targeting tools and user trust to tout cheap pharmaceuticals, designer replicas and other products in a trend reminiscent of traditional spam, according to a six-month study by antivirus software provider, Bitdefender.

The study of 50,000 unique domains revealed pharmacy products account for 33 percent of these suspicious Facebook ads while replicas comprise 30 percent, dating accounts for 19 percent and gambling covers 18 percent.

Bitdefender Online Threats Researcher Andrei Serbanoiu says the rapid growth of the social network and precision of its advertising tools are prompting criminals to lure Facebook users with tempting offers that may, like traditional spam, end in stolen user data.

“The fact that the ads are encapsulated inside a trustworthy environment gives spammers a trust boost and definitely lures in more users than your average spam message,” said Mr Serbanoiu.

“But there are even greater advantages for the converted spam advertiser as Facebook has a very comprehensive list of targeting options allowing scammers to maximise their success.”

“Facebook ad-targeting ranges from specifying certain age groups and geographical areas to particular education groups and people with shared interests. Unlike email spam, this allows for very precise targeting of potential victims of scams,” said Mr Serbanoiu.

Examples of such ads include those promoting high-value prizes such as electronics, cars or even large sums of money.

“A single click leads users to fraudulent schemes that persuade them to give away sensitive data such as personal or credit card information. They may also be tricked into installing a malicious piece of software, taking part in an SMS sweepstakes scam or brought to fake shops and those shops selling counterfeit goods.”

The Bitdefender research focused on ads in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

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