Malicious actors are throwing a twist on the old saying that nothing is ever free by actually scamming people into paying for an item that is available at no cost.
The scammers are once again playing off people’s well-deserved concern over how to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and tying it to several well-known media brands including, CNN, People Magazine and CNBC. Avast is reporting the malicious actors set up several websites hyping the ebook Pandemic Survival. Adding a bit more insult is the book contains tips that are unlikely to be helpful.
The site prices the book at $37 per download and uses a video commercial as a sales tool. Avast has seen more than 10,000 visits to the site so far this month. Avast could not determine how many of the site visitors have fallen for the scam.
“The checkout process is handled by the website BuyGoods.com where the users are redirected if they attempt to buy this book. When the money is transferred, the user will receive a link to download his newly purchased book. This link leads to the site psurvival[.]org,” Avast reported.
However, the site does not contain any methodology to force a payment in order to receive the book, simply downloading it works.
The fraud site itself is advertised through email blasts and malvertising campaigns.
“We took a closer look at the scam website healthylifeupdate [.]com, and noticed that the threat actors take advantage of popular media brands to create a sense of trust among readers. So, if users visit healthylifeupdate [.]com, they will encounter a website with the logo, look, and feel of CNN’s, CNBC’s, and People’s websites, stealing their brands,” Avast said.
Following any of the links associated with the logos will take the victim the fake website.