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Security Response

Lesser-Known Occasions Promote Meds in Spam Scams

Created: 20 Jul 2011 18:46:23 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:19:51 GMT • Translations available: 日本語
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What is a spammer’s route to success?  When he manages to bypass the labyrinth of spam filters to reach your inbox!  But with filters becoming more advanced by the day, spammers have to continuously re-invent their attacks. The next question is, then, “What’s the new trend now?” 

Well, as far as pharma-spam goes, spammers are no longer content to just flog meds. Now, it’s a med for EVERY occasion. It doesn’t matter if the occasion is special or not. After all, it is the user who makes the occasion special.
Symantec has detected a range of email spam messages promoting the sale of pharmaceuticals for different occasions, ranging from the Cannes Festival to little-known Catholic saint feast days. (The Catholic Church commemorates and dedicates each calendar day to a saint.) Bulk spam mails of this sort are sent daily to millions of people across the globe. Some of the events and festivals highlighted in the “From” line include: 
  • From: "For International Justice Day's 19"
  • From: "International No Diet Day 06"
  • From: "blessed kateri tekakwitha 14
  • From: "Festival Cannes 64"  
  • From: "Festival Cannes 2011"  
  • From: "Saint BLESSED Kateri Tekakwitha"
  • From: "Camillus de LELIS"
The majority of these messages contain a link to the phishing website shown below: 
Pharma phishing site used in spam scams
Figure 1 - Pharma phishing site used in spam scams
Be cautious if you receive such messages. Spammers are using such bait to draw both traffic to their fake sites and to induce users to compromise their financial credentials by offering huge, unrealistic discounts. 
Although spam targeting these relatively obscure events is fairly new, don’t be fooled by the dubious claims. To avoid such spam as much as possible, update your anti-spam signatures regularly.
Note: Thanks to Anand Muralidharan and Suji S for contributions to this article.