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Trend Micro warns of McDonald's gift card spam on Twitter

04 Jan 2012

McDonalds arches in a restaurant

Security experts at Trend Micro are warning users to be on their guard after they discovered yet another Twitter spam campaign, this time using fast food giant McDonalds as a lure.

Designed to cash-in on the trend for giving ‘gift cards' to friends and family during the festive season, this scam uses the hashtag #mcdonalds gift card and shortened URLs to trick users into clicking through to a dodgy link, according to Trend Micro fraud analyst Cris Lumague.

"McDonald's is a globally well-known fast food chain that, like many other establishments, do offer certificates and vouchers for patrons who would like to give these as gifts or rewards," he explained on the TrendLabs Malware blog.

"Unfortunately, closer inspection of the shortened link reveals a URL that doesn't seem to have anything to do with McDonald's gift certificates."

The link actually takes users to an adult dating site landing page, he said.

"We consider the URLs used in this attack as malicious because of the deceitful nature by which they are used," added Lumague.

As Lumague explains in the blog, it's not the first time McDonald's has been used as a spam lure and it won't be the last. Another interesting point to note is the increasing prevalence of such scams on Twitter.

The medium is now so popular that users must be aware that scammers and malware writers will be doing their best to spread their messages via tweets on the site.

In particular, users should take care when searching the general site for generic words and phrases as above, rather than solely among their contacts.

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Phil Muncaster

Phil Muncaster is news editor at, a role he has fulfilled since January 2010. Previously he was chief reporter for IT Week, having also worked as a reporter and senior reporter on the publication from 2005.

Before IT Week, Phil worked as a researcher for the Rough Guide. Prior to his work in journalism, Phil spent three years teaching English in Japan.



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