Swine flu scams

30 May 2009

SCAMwatch is warning consumers to be on the look out for scammers seeking to profit from the recent swine flu health threat.

There has been a surge in reports overseas of cybercriminals capitalising on fears about swine flu to scam internet users.

Cyber criminals are sending billions of spam emails mentioning swine flu to trick people into opening messages. The majority of spam emails appear to be coming from Brazil, the United States and Germany.

Spammers are exploiting the virus to sell bogus pharmaceuticals or infect computers with malicious software.

Authorities overseas warn that scammers have created bogus websites to provide information about swine flu and to sell pills/survival kits. The scammer may also try to trick people into sending money or providing personal information.  

Scamwatch advises consumers not to open spam emails. Consumers are also advised not to send money and provide personal details to people they don’t know and trust.

For more information about swine flu, visit the Department of Health and Ageing.

Warning signs for swine flu scams

  • Emails may include the subject line: “Swine flu worldwide” or “Protect your family from swine flu”.
  • Emails may contain links to fake websites selling online pharmaceuticals, such as antiviral drugs, or swine flu protection kits.

How to protect yourself from swine flu scams

  • The Department of Health and Ageing provides up to date information and alerts for Australians on the swine flu epidemic.
  • If you are thinking about travelling overseas you should visit the Australian government’s Smart Traveller website to find out which destinations you should avoid and what vaccinations you may need.
  • Don't open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam)—delete them.
  • Don’t open any emails trying to sell you information or drugs to protect yourself against swine flu.
  • Don’t go onto websites that purport to sell swine flu drugs or swine flu survival kits. 
  • Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone who is not known and trusted.

Report


Report the matter using the ‘Report a scam’ page in SCAMwatch.

More information


For more information about swine flu in Australia visit the Department of Health and Ageing website.

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about scams that commonly target Australians including health and medical and phishing scams.

Read more