Cybercriminals consistently take advantage of consumer interest around award shows, new movies and TV shows as well as the latest cultural trends driven by celebrities. These criminals capitalize on the public’s fascination with celebrities in order to lure the public into sites laden with malware. This year, searching for a celebrity name coupled with the search term “free app download” resulted in the most instances of malware-laden sites.
“Today’s consumers often are completely unaware of security risks when searching for celebrity and entertainment news, images and videos online, sacrificing safety for immediacy,” says Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee. “Cybercriminals prey on consumers’ addiction to breaking news and leverage this behavior to lead them to unsafe sites that can severely infect their computers and devices and steal personal data.”
Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Luke Bryan and other famous names have been used by scammers. Many fans have shared recent encounters with scammers masquerading as popular country superstars with us on Facebook.
For example, Lisa wrote in to say that she’d received a couple of these messages earlier this week: "I have had several Facebook friend requests from ‘country music stars’ [saying] that I had liked their FB page. One was supposedly Tim McGraw, and the other was supposedly Trace Adkins. They thank me for being a fan, develop a little conversation, then tell me the security company they have been using is closing, and they need a dependable person to receive and hold their briefcase."
"Said briefcase allegedly contains a HUGE sum of money, concert tickets, etc… The briefcase will be delivered to me via a courier service, and I must pay the fee to get the briefcase, which will be returned to me tenfold. The fee? $800+!!!!!!! Please let people know. I notified local law enforcement who didn’t care. The [scammers] actually got very ugly when I refused."
While Lisa’s experience shows that the names of Tim McGraw and Trace Adkins are reportedly being used by scammers, it isn’t limited to those two country stars. Nor is this kind of scam a new thing.
As far back as 2012, Luke Bryan took to his Facebook page to warn fans about fake profiles that crooks were setting up in his name: “Hey y’all, PLEASE SHARE THIS! I just want to let everybody in on something. There have been a lot of issues with fake Facebook profiles of me. This is the only profile I use for correspondence. I don’t have a personal page. If you are friends with another Luke Bryan, unfriend them and don’t believe any of the messages.”
With so many new channels and sources for content, how do fans know they have an authentic connection? How can fans engage and gain access to everything they love when it is scattered across 20 channels?
I, Charles Simmons, went online to search for myself and my content only to discover there where many fake doppelgangers out there. There were many people with the same name, a couple of people pretending to be me, and several people auctioning off and selling my music without my permission. I began pondering what I could do to stop and change this.
That was the moment I began to formulate in my mind the artist / fan collaboration idea. I wanted to find a way to personally reach and engage with my fans in a real way, with a personalized and true connection. I wanted them to know it was really me, I wanted them to know the true places to purchase my music, my merchandise, my events and I wanted them to be aware of the scams. After watching increasing numbers of fans being fooled by fake concerts, and “Insta-Scam” profiles being posted, my partner Bill Shook and I knew something had to be done.
Let's find a way to eliminate fans being scammed, or getting caught up in a money scheme by someone pretending to be their favorite celebrity, athlete or brand.