Scammers are asking truth-seeking conspiracy theorists to ignore the inherent irony and give up some of their private data in order to find out the "truth" about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Scams circulating on Facebook and Twitter purport to offer video reports of the plane being found, some of which bizarrely claim that the Boeing 777 had been discovered on the other side of the world in the Bermuda Triangle.
The links in the dodgy messages take surfers to a fake YouTube page with an "age verification dialog". Security researchers have discovered that the age verification involves completing an online survey that supposedly offers a gateway to the non-existent footage.
In reality, it's a ruse to earn crooks a few cents in marketing affiliate revenues from dodgy online marketing firms that, at best, wastes a lot of people's time and (very likely) coaxes victims into handing over private information.
Facebook has been busily purging the social network of links to the scam but they are still reappearing, albeit in French and other languages rather than their original English language form.
Scammers and virus writers are seldom slow to exploit breaking news or a national disaster to promote their wares. This has happened time and time again.
"Anything asking you to share content or like something before watching a "shocking video" or asking you to complete surveys is likely going to end up being a scam," writes Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, in a blog post. "There are more than enough genuine news sources out there to be able to confirm or debunk a supposedly breaking story with a few minutes [of] clicking."
Blogger Hoax Slayer uncovered the first known example of MH370 survey scams circulating on Facebook. Malwarebytes reports that the aviation disaster-themed survey scam is also spreading on Twitter.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing more than a week ago en route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. Malaysian authorities claimed over the weekend that the flight's MH370′s tracking systems were deliberately disabled while evidence from other systems suggests the plane changed course before flying for a further six hours or more. There have not as yet been any verified reports of a sighting of either the plane or the 239 people who were on board on Saturday 8 March when it vanished. ®