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Researchers warn of Olympics-based cyber scammers

14 Jul 2012
London 2012 Olympic Games logo

Researchers with McAfee are warning users to be vigilant for online scams related to the imminent start of the London Olympics.

The company said that it had collected a number of spam messages which reference the Games and attempt to collect user data. Disguised as lottery and sweepstakes promotions, the attacks offer users cash prizes in exchange for personal details.

"After contacting the lottery manager, the victims of these rip-offs will be asked to pay 'processing fees' or 'transfer charges' so that the winnings can be distributed," McAfee senior virus research engineer Francois Paget said in a blog post.

"In some cases, the organisers ask for a copy of the winner’s passport, national ID, or driver’s licence."

Other brands referenced in the spam messages include Nokia, Microsoft and Coca Cola.

The attacks come less than two weeks before the London Olympic Games are set to kick off and researchers believe that such campaigns will increase as the opening ceremonies draw near. With unprecedented online activity expected over the course of the games, planners have undertaken a series of massive IT infrastructure projects to prepare the city.

Such large-scale events, however, also provide opportunity for cybercriminals. Major sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup have become popular lures in recent years for attackers seeking to lure in victims.


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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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