Facebook hackers use suspected live TV stroke attack reporter as scam-bait

According to Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with Sophos, a YouTube video of Serene Branson, a CBS Los Angeles newsreader, went viral after reports spread that she had suffered a stroke on live TV.

The footage of Ms Branson, he said, stumbling over her words quickly became viral, as users on Facebook and Twitter passed the link on to each other.

"Although reports indicate that Miss Branson was not hospitalised and is feeling fine, interest in the video snippet continues to bubble away - and now scammers are exploiting the news story", said Cluley in a posting on his security blog this afternoon.

Cluley went on to say that, if internet users make the mistake of clicking on the link - perhaps out of morbid curiosity - they will be presented with a screen claiming that what you are about to do is use a "verified app".

"Of course, the Facebook app is in reality a third-party rogue application, designed to make money for the scammers who instigated the scheme", he said. "Behind-the-scenes your own Facebook page has published the link to your online friends and family, encouraging them to also click on the link", he explained.

Using this approach, he went on to say, the link spreads virally, increasing the opportunities for the scammers to make money.

"And how do they make money? By presenting you with the all-too-familiar survey scam before you can watch the video footage. If you complete the survey, the scammers earn a small amount of commission - and you've helped them generate even more by sharing the link virally via your Facebook page", he said.

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