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Security Response

Spammers Taking Advantage of Celebrity’s Death

Created: 14 Jun 2010 21:52:21 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:26:55 GMT
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Former child star Gary Coleman, who shot to fame on the TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, died on May 28, 2010. The American actor is well known not only for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in Diff'rent Strokes, but also for his small stature as an adult, which was caused by a congenital kidney disease that halted his growth at an early age.

As always, events such as these seem to be prime targets for spammers and malicious code authors alike. Symantec has been monitoring spam samples that tie in to Gary Coleman’s death; in particular, we’ve been observing several health-related spam messages that use the news headlines of Coleman’s death as their Subject lines.

As shown in below example, the message is, in actuality, a promotion of a Canadian pharmacy spam site. The links embedded in the message direct users to this online pharmacy:

In previous spam campaigns we have noted increases in spam related to celebrity deaths. So, Internet users should expect to see threats seeking to play upon the emotions and curiosity of the public who are interested in this latest tragedy. If you’re looking for news, videos, pictures, or any information regarding Gary Coleman, Symantec recommends that you only visit sites you’re familiar with and trust. Don’t click on every link you see related to this story and always keep your security solutions up to date.