The January earthquake in Haiti sparked a boom in spam messages backed by online scams, according to Symantec.
The security firm said in its most recent State of Spam and Phishing report (PDF) that messages related to the tragedy accounted for as much 21 per cent of the total spam load, double the volume from last month.
Scams included phoney charity messages, phishing and malware attacks.
"Spammers started with 419 type spam, asking users to donate money to a charity," said Symantec.
"Building off of this, spammers began to send phishing messages pretending to be from a well-known legitimate organisation like Unicef."
The surge in online scams was not unexpected. Experts throughout the security industry had warned that cyber criminals would seek to profit from increased interest in the disaster and donation efforts.
Valentine's Day has also been popular with scammers, and Symantec expects the seasonal focus to shift to the looming US tax deadline.
EMEA was responsible for the largest share of the spam load at 42 per cent. Among individual countries, the US far outpaced the rest of the world with a 24 per cent share, followed by Brazil with six per cent and India with five per cent.
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