It was one of those odd moments where the entire online community was briefly unified in its mourning of the tech visionary, Apple co-founder, and former CEO whose life-work has demanded nearly universal respect. But as with everything else on the Internet, it didn’t last long. The dregs of the Web showed up in short-order to exploit the death of Steve Jobs, who died of cancer last night at the age of 56.
Within minutes of the news of Jobs’ death, announced by Apple on Wednesday evening, Twitter and other social networks exploded with an outpouring of grief and condolences. It took just hours before the first scams exploiting the Apple founder and former CEO’s death began circulating. Among them:
Kaspersky Lab researcher, Dimitri Best, posted a Twitpic this morning of what seems to be the most widespread Steve Jobs scam floating around at the moment. The scam-site, SteveJobsFuneral.com, purports to offer links to photos and videos of Jobs’ funeral, which hasn’t even occurred yet, as well as links to Apple product pages. It also entices web-surfers with a chance to win one of 15 free Macbook Pros if they provide their email address. According to a post by F-Secure, this particular site was registered on September 20, and contains affiliate advertising info that will bring revenue to the sites creators for any purchases made through the link.
Sophos’ Graham Cluley details a Facebook scam claiming that Apple is giving away 50 free iPads in memory of Steve Jobs. Of course it isn’t true, by following this link and others like it you are helping affiliate advertising companies make money. You may be prompted to take a survey, enter some sort of contest, or, in the worst cases, you may be infecting your computer with malware.
There was no shortage of Twitter based scams as well, many offering links to Jobs memorial sites that were serving malicious links.
This isn’t the first time that scammers have jumped on a huge story to make a quick buck. It happened after Osama bin Laden was killed, it happened in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disasters, it happened after Casey Anthony’s acquittal, it happened when both Amy Winehouse and Elizabeth Taylor died. These sorts of scams pre-date the Internet and they aren’t going anywhere. If there is easy money to be made, no matter how lowly the process, someone’s going to make that profit. The important thing is that you are smart. Stick to trusted sites and news sources, of which SteveJobsFuneral.com and too-good-to-be-true social media offers are not included.