Flight 17 spam scams on Facebook, Twitter

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The recent MH17 flight crash is being used in an online scamming scheme, mainly through facebook. Online security experts warn that these ads spread objectionable links. Minister Ivo Opstelten of Security and Justice is calling the digital scheme shocking.

Scammers are placing dozens of so-called 'community pages' on Facebook, dedicated to victims of the tragedy. On the page, Facebook users are tricked into clicking links showing extra or unseen footage of the crash. Instead of seeing a video, they are led to various pop-up ads for porn sites or online casinos. This is called 'clickbait' scamming.

"If this is true, it is shocking", Minister Ivo Opstelten tells the Algemeen Dagblad.

On Twitter, tweets have appeared seemingly reporting the disaster, but actually leading readers to spam links as well.

Online security specialist Richard Cox told the BBC that this is not a surprising development. High-profile tragedies usually tempt online spammers to manipulate the situation. "It is a fairly rapid and predictable response by the individuals behind it. They are all to make money. There is no compassion involved", he said.

The last Malaysia Airlines disaster, when flight MH370 disappeared mid-flight, also saw several clickbait scams spring into action. Facebook posts, tweets and emails dedicated to showing people the newest, rarest footage or information about the flight was actually a way to infect computers with malware.

Although this scam does not seem to be focused on malware as much, Cox said that Facebook should have deleted the site. A spokesman for Facebook told the BBC that this is being done. "We are disabling these profiles as soon as we are made aware of them."

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