Spammers exploit Pope's funeral to make money fast, reports Sophos

April 11, 2005 Sophos Press Release

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus and spam analysis centres, have discovered a spam campaign attempting to recruit internet users to a "make money fast" scheme. In a sick twist, the spam campaign exploits interest in Pope John Paul II whose funeral was held in Rome on Friday.

The spam campaign arrives in the form of an email claiming to offer a "free" collection of books by Pope John Paul II.

The email claims to offer free copies of books written by the late Pope.
The email claims to offer free copies of books written by the late Pope.

The emails claim that recipients can receive free copies of the books by clicking on a link, but this in fact takes users to a website which says that the offer is not available in the user's location, and automatically redirects them to a website offering advice on "free money-making secrets", with no mention of the late Pope.

The spam email really links to a website offering 'free money making secrets'.
The spam email really links to a website offering 'free money making secrets'.

"Spammers are prepared to plumb the depths in their attempt to get internet users to buy their goods or services. The Pope's death has been mourned by millions around the world, yet for the spammers it's just another opportunity to sell their unwanted wares," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Everyone should defend their email systems with industrial strength anti-spam software, and follow best practise advice, to minimise the nuisance of spam."

In February, a campaign apparently masterminded by the same group of spammers tried to encourage computer users to visit their website by making a bogus offer of the next Harry Potter book.

Sophos PureMessage has been proactively protecting businesses around the world from this latest spam campaign since it first appeared the day before the Pope's funeral last week.

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses from the threats of both spam and viruses.