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Pharma Spam Behind Seedy Online Ads

Recently there has been an uptick of deceptive online ad tactics aimed at getting consumers to buy from shady online pharmaceuticals. In some cases, spammers are - as they often do - borrowing from headline news to get people to click on the ads, in this case Google +. Spammers are sending out bogus Google+ invitations that in reality point to online pharmacies, writes Graham Cluley at Naked Security. "The messages look similar to the real emails that users may receive from friends who are already members of Google+."

"However, clicking on the links will not take you to the new social network, but instead take you to a pharmacy website set up to sell the likes of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra to the unwary."

Sam Masiello, general manager and chief security officer of Return Path, made similar observations on the Received Blog (via eWeek), saying that malicious emails pretending to be from Google+ may become as regular as the messages that target Facebook users. He also notes some of these fake pages are being advertised on other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn.

"1 Tip for a Tiny Belly"

Perhaps the most ubiquitous online ad right now connected to such activities is the "1 Tip for a Tiny Belly" ad, the headline depicted over an animated drawing of a woman’s bare midriff. It is a fake news site that promotes acai berry weight-loss products, according to the Federal Trade Commission (via the Washington Post). This ad has been everywhere on the Internet, the Post reports, running as pop-ups and displays on Facebook,,, websites for the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper in Britain.

Although it lures people in with the promise of weight loss tips, it is in fact hawking a wide array of diet and weight-loss products. So far, according to the Post, it has pulled in $1 billion.


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