Sunday, October 5, 2008


It is unbelievable how one person’s tragedy becomes another person’s opportunity. While researching a topic for this issue’s Web Bytes, I came across mentioned of phishing (pronounced fishing) scams to exploit the massacre at Virginia Tech (VT). This is base on the increased number of domain names recently registered associated with the shootings at VT (Kaplan, 2007). One needs to be extremely security conscious, not only in light of this, but as part of your normal everyday Internet interaction. Phishing emails appear to be from a legitimate Web site. This being the premise of the scheme, the unsuspecting recipient click on the links in the email which takes them to a bogus site that mimics a reputable company. Divulging private information on this site – in this case one that appears to be associated with the VT tragedy - most likely would be used to steal your identity. This is just the latest scheme to take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities during a tragedy. Prior to this it was a spike in the number of Tropical Storm-Ernesto related domains and before that it was an increase in fraudulent Web sites asking for donations to help the victims of Katrina (Kaplan, 2006).

We are sure there are legitimate fund raising sites to help the victims and families of disasters and would not want to divert from this goal. The purpose of this Web Byte is to call your attention to how people are always scheming to take advantage of one’s generous nature. In general, one must be security minded while dealing with unsolicited emails and in particular, be more diligent in light on this information.

For readers who did not read our previous issues dealing with Phishing and Pharming (pronounced farming), please visit the following Web sites for more information on these two topics:

Federal Citizens Information Center at

5 Steps to Keep From Being Victimized by Phishing Scams

How Not to Get Hooked By a the ‘Phishing’ Scam

Identity Theft and Credit Monitoring Services

National Internet Fraud Watch

To report suspicious email to the US Federal Trade Commission, visit their Web site at (The old email address listed in our Phishing article has been phased out).

As always, if you are interested in reading Web Bytes on a particular topic, please email your request to

Kaplan, D. (2006, August 29). Hike in Ernesto-related Domains could be a Sign of Scams.

Kaplan, D. (2007, April 18). Virginia tech massacre may spawn phishing scams. SC Magazine US.

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