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Usama bin Laden Death Leads to Rash of Cyberscams

Usama Bin Laden Is Dead Facebook Page

A Facebook page celebrating the death of Usama bin Laden quickly garnered nearly 350,000 fans -- and scammers quickly targeted the page as well.Facebook

The world's most wanted criminal was found and killed Sunday. By late that evening, crooks had unleashed a wave of new spam emails, poisoned search results, and specially crafted websites -- all designed to mislead people seeking news.

Security analysts across the Internet Monday morning warned of the onslaught of new threats that inevitably follow a major news event. Leading security firm Kaspersky Lab began detecting spam e-mail campaigns and Web pages built specifically to game the major search engines within hours of the first reports of his death in a firefight with U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

President Obama announced the results of the top-secret operation late Sunday night, calling it the most significant blow to Al Qaeda to date. Within hours, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed more than 3,000 people was buried at sea, the president said.

And within hours of that, warned Kaspersky analyst Fabio Assolini, the company began finding search engine optimized (SEO) Web pages offering news of bin Laden's death and claiming to offer photographs of the slain terrorist. Clicking those links directed Web surfers to malicious Web pages that try to install Best Antivirus 2011, a rogue anti malware program, Assolini said.

Another Kaspersky researcher uncovered a Facebook spam campaign offering "free subway rides and plane tickets" to "celebrate Osama's death." Users visiting the malicious page were asked to enter personal information to win a prize, but end up spamming their own friends with the solicitation, he warned.

This is only the beginning of what promises the be the usual onslaught of scams and trickery, warned experts. 

"Within 24 hours we can expect in excess of 100 million spam emails," Symantec's Steve Martin told SecureComputing.com.

"Anytime there is a major event there are always scammers," he said.