Watch Out: Cyber Criminals Launching Steve Jobs’ Death Scams

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It’s sad but probably inevitable: When someone as recognizable and popular as Apple’s Steve Jobs passes away, cyber crooks and spam moguls turn up in droves.

So watch out, because the scams are already circulating, like one noticed by Kapersky Lab’s Dmitri Bestuzhev, who snapped pictures of a Jobs’-death-related shakedown.

“The death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was mourned by millions across the globe on October 5, 2011,” it reads, urging visitors to “Remember Steve Jobs” by clicking “to purchase on of his inventions.” Fake contest text highlighted neon-green claims you could “Win 1 of 15 MacBook Pros in Memory of Steve Jobs” is you submit your email. Do so, and chances are all you’ll win is pole position placement on someone’s virtual spam rolodex.

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And then it gets downright disturbing, with purported links to “Photos of the Funeral and the Coffin,” a “Video of Steve’s Funeral,” and an option to “Pay Tribute to Steve.” There’s even a dummy photo of some random, actual funeral with a promise that “Video footage and images will be here uploaded live from the funeral ceremony,” and to “Check back here each day to see if they are posted.”

Then there’s this Facebook scam, morbidly titled “R.I.P. Steve Jobs,” and claiming that “In memory of Steve, a company is giving out 50 ipads tonight. R.I.P. Steve Jobs,” followed by links to an online survey and a virtual casino. Security firm Sophos walks through the scam, explaining why the chances anyone’s getting a free iPad out of it by clicking the link are essentially zero, though it seems well over 15,000 people were already suckered into doing so.

“How do the scammers make money?” writes Sophos’ Graham Cluley. “Well, they are earning affiliate cash – in a nutshell, they make more money the more traffic they can direct to websites, driving more people to become customers, or take online surveys and competitions.”

And as a warning, he adds: “Chances are that this won’t be the only scam we see regarding the untimely death of Steve Jobs. It wouldn’t be a surprise, for instance, to see scams which might try to take advantage of those moved by the loss of Apple’s founder with lures like ‘Donate to Steve’s favourite charities as a tribute’.”

So be careful out there, and probably best to steer clear of anything related to Steve Jobs’ death that involves solicitous emails, funeral pictures, Apple product contests, tribute link bait, or that asks you to pass along your personal info (including your email address).

[via MSNBC]

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.