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Spam campaign targets Michael Jackson fans

30 June 2010 - 10:01 by Sarah Collinson

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Fans of Michael Jackson, the pop icon who died last year, are being targeted by spam emails encouraging them to hand over personal details in order to buy products claiming to commemorate his death.

Internet security firm Symantec discovered the malicious spam campaign that is designed to fool those shopping online into not only parting with personal information, but also with hard earned cash for products that they will never receive.

The main product being hawked via the scam emails is a commemorative coin that features the famous face of Jackson engraved on one side and is retailing at the equivalent of £13, which places it firmly into the impulse buy territory for those who appreciate the life and work of the so-called King of Pop.

If the user follows a link in the spam message they are encouraged to order the phony coin by giving away their home address, payment card information and even their landline phone number, all of which contravenes the basics of safe shopping online when the source site is not trusted or reputable.

Spammers have been exploiting the death of Jackson periodically over the past 12 months. Immediately after his death, his name was quickly elevated to the top of the spam topic charts, just as his back catalogue began to top the record charts. Official figures predict that the Jackson estate has made a billion dollars from legitimate sales since the singer died last year, but the cost incurred as a result of the spam campaigns is currently unknown.

Criminals have been quick to capitalise on significant news events and in particular celebrity deaths, by manipulating the way in which search engines accumulate results, all too easily duping those attempting to enjoy some safe shopping online into parting with private information whilst attempting to pay tribute to their idols.