Spammers and scammers try to tap swine flu fears

The Better Business Bureau serving Oregon, Alaska and western Washington is warning consumers to be on the lookout for fraudulent e-mails and Web sites trying to take advantage of the current swine flu outbreak.

The bureau's warning is based on information from online security firms that track spam and scams.

McAfee, a massive Santa Clara, Calif.-based security technology company, reported that spam with swine flu references in the subject line started as soon as initial news reports of the disease came in last week. Most beckon people toward online pharmacies.

A Finnish online security company, F-Secure, reported that hundreds of domain names that include the words "swine flu" have been registered in recent days. While most seem to be opportunistic marketers selling survival guides or medical treatments of questionable worth, F-Secure fears that some will be linked with dangerous software that will infect computers.

The Better Business Bureau reminds people to make sure that anti-virus software is updated, but that no human vaccine for swine flu exists yet, so online offers for that are false.

— Anita Burke

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