Facebook Scam: Don't Click on Fake Serene Branson 'Stroke' Video

facebook homepage - serene branson strokeScammers on Facebook rapidly capitalized on a video supposedly showing a CBS Los Angeles TV reporter having an on-air stroke after the Grammy Awards telecast, using readers' curiosity to push out a piece of badware.

Serene Branson created a flurry of web activity on Monday when, during a post-awards report, she had a problem forming words and appeared to be suffering from a seizure or stroke. Since then, she is reportedly resting in good condition after being checked by paramedics and told her bosses the on-air incident had nothing to do with medical problems.

After the footage went viral, scammers have capitalized on continued interest in the video, posting on social networking site Facebook messages with the heading "Reporter Had a Stroke on Live TV" that contain some variation of the words: "Omg this reporter had a stroke on live tv check it out [LINK]." Clicking on that link produced an invitation to download a "verified app" on a screen with an image of Branson that looks like a video play window. A screen asking for personal information follows, which copies the link to the victim's Facebook page and sends a similar message to people in the victims' address book, attempting to "virally" replicate.

"Clicking 'Approve' is a bad idea, but many people fall for social engineering tricks like this all too easily," wrote Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the U.K.-based security firm Sophos, on the company's Naked Security blog.

The point of this scam, Cluley writes, is little more than obtaining click-through commission on a survey the third-party rogue application forces the victims to take in the process of trying to get to the video of Branson.

The website All Facebook, which bills itself as "the unofficial Facebook resource," briefly talks users through a process of fixing the problem, and links to a Sophos video on dealing with Facebook scams.

Facebook officials said the company's spam team was investigating the incident, and sent the following statement to Consumer Ally:

"Protecting the people who use Facebook from spam and scams is a top priority for us. Applications and Pages that attempt to trick people into taking a certain action or spamming their friends violate our policies, and we have a large team of professional investigators who quickly remove these when we detect them or when they're reported to us by our users. We're working on ways to automate the flagging of these scams so we can take action on them even more quickly.

"We also educate people on how to be safe both on Facebook and across the Internet through information and updates on the Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/facebook) and Facebook Security (http://www.facebook.com/security) Pages, as well as posts on the Facebook blog."

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