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Spam Gangs Make Millions by Targeting Swine Flu Fears

Web Gangs Selling Fake Flu Drugs

Usually when we're getting spammed and scammed by fake online pharmacies, we're being offered steep discounts on Viagra. But Russian gangs are turning their attention from 79-percent Pfizer discounts to offers for Tamiflu, the antiviral medication used to combat both the seasonal and swine flu.

Security firm Sophos claims to have intercepted hundreds of millions of fake flu-related spam mails and Web sites. The trend is particularly worrisome, since despite low infection rates and even lower mortality rates, H1N1 (or swine flu) still inspires panic in much of the population. The gangs are preying on these fears by operating sites with seemingly legitimate brand names, like "Canadian Pharmacy," according to Reuters. The sites sell counterfeit drugs to gullible customers, but Sophos also worries that those sales are part of a larger scam that may put consumers' credit card and personal information in jeopardy.

The worst part is that these criminals are getting rich off the scheme. According to Sophos's research, a promoter of such fake pharmaceutical sites makes an average of $16,000 a day, or $5.8 million a year. Some top-tier scammers with multiple affiliate networks can bring in upwards of $100,000 per day, enough to make us re-think this whole "blogging" thing.

Of course, avoiding being taken in by these criminals is relatively simple. In addition to practicing good browsing habits (e.g., not opening e-mails from unknown sources, or submitting credit card information at untrusted sites), you should simply avoid making purchases from any online pharmacy. There are few legitimate (or legal) options for online drug purchases. Your health and information is safest when you both receive and fill a prescription in person. Regardless, when it comes to medicine, you probably shouldn't be cutting corners to save a buck. [From: Sophos and Reuters]

Tags: flu, H1N1, medical, scam, Scams, spam, swine flu, SwineFlu, Tamiflu, top

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