Osama Bin Laden Photo E-mail and Link Scam

Don’t feel bad if you were slightly tempted since the President’s announcement that Usama Bin Laden (or Osama Bin Laden) was dead to click on those ads, emails, Facebook or tweets that claim to be videos or pictures of him, shot in the head.  You aren’t the only ones, even U.S.  Senators may have been misled.

In an article with CNN reporters senators admitted to having seen pictures of bin Laden dead, but with so many reports of fake photographs circulating on the Internet it is hard to know what is fact and what is fiction.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, in his interview told local reporters he had seen a photograph as well as telling CNN he was shown one photo on a colleague’s Blackberry and after seeing them agrees with some who says that these pictures should not be released.  However, he isn’t sure it was authentic, stating, “I don’t know if it’s real or not.”

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, spoke to several news agencies including CNN  and described them as “what you would expect from somebody who’s been shot in the head. It’s not pretty.”  He believes the photos should be released stating, “”One of these days they’re going to be released; it’s a question of whether it be now on our terms or (let) somebody else do it.” However, later in the day, he also reports that he was shown the photo on an electronic device so has no way of knowing if the image he was authentic or not.

Another Senator and member of the Armed Services Committee,  Kelly Ayotte, {R-New Hampshire}, told reporters that another senator on the Armed Services Committee showed her a photo of Osama Bin Laden and that it “was just a facial shot….I saw a photo of him deceased,” and “The head area, obviously, he had been wounded. I can’t describe it – give any better description than that.” She too, believes the photos should be released.

However, the average person doesn’t have access to the information that these high ranking government officials have and yet they may think that pictures or videos have somehow been released and gone “viral.”  But the FBI warns that just as quickly as reports of bin Laden’s death went viral, computer hackers were at their keyboards creating “malicious software that features Usama bin Laden links to ensnare unsuspecting computer users.”   In a report released today they advise:

“The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) urges computer users to not open unsolicited (spam) e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages. Even if the sender is familiar, the public should exercise due diligence. Computer owners must ensure they have up-to-date firewall and anti-virus software running on their machines to detect and deflect malicious software.

The IC3 recommends the public do the following:

  • Adjust the privacy settings on social networking sites you frequent to make it more difficult for people you know and do not know to post content to your page. Even a “friend” can unknowingly pass on multimedia that’s actually malicious software.
  • Do not agree to download software to view videos. These applications can infect your computer.
  • Read e-mails you receive carefully. Fraudulent messages often feature misspellings, poor grammar, and nonstandard English.
  • Report e-mails you receive that purport to be from the FBI. Criminals often use the FBI’s name and seal to add legitimacy to their fraudulent schemes. In fact, the FBI does not send unsolicited e-mails to the public. Should you receive unsolicited messages that feature the FBI’s name, seal, or that reference a division or unit within the FBI or an individual employee, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.”

So think twice before you touch that link to a photo or video claiming to be of Osama bin Laden, because if some of the United States government doesn’t even know if it’s the “real deal” or not, then neither can you.