5 online scams and security threats to avoid this Christmas

Peace be with you,

My name is Jesus Christ and I am contacting you with a most desperate plea. I was born away in a manger (no crib for a bed) in a Bethlehem barn. I was unable to trace my natural father for many years, until I received visions in my head that revealed him to be God Almighty.

I now stand to inherit the known universe, however I require a European bank account to transfer the cosmos into while I arrange the paperwork. I shall pay you a handsome reward (any planet / species of your choice plus US$75 million) should you send me your name, address and full account details.

God bless you my child,

Jesus Christ

Ah, the old son of God email - who hasn't fallen for that one at this time of year, eh? Perhaps not. But Webuser has compiled a list of genuine (?) scams you might have received in the last few days, to help you stay one step ahead of the rapscallions:

An online flight ticket email, pretending to be from a major airline (US Airways, Virgin America, American Airlines and Continental Airlines have all be used), claims that the recipient's credit card has been debited hundreds of pounds. It advises you to open an attached file, which will infect Windows users with a Trojan horse. Do not open the file!

Pret A Manger has warned customers that they won't be honouring the fake 'buy one get one free' email vouchers that have appeared in many Inboxes over the last few weeks. The printable voucher promises a 'buy one get one free' deal on food, soup and coffee until 16 December.

If you receive an email about VirusRemover 2008 or find a program of that name when searching the web steer well clear. It is a scam which claims your PC is infected with a virus and asks you to pay money to buy the full version of the program to remove the infection from your PC. Security experts warned that it is just the latest in a long line of fake anti-virus software scams.

Beware the mystery shopper scam, in which criminals make contact by email, gain the victim's trust through telephone calls and then claim to have sent money into the victim's bank account. The scammer then instructs the victim to send the money back, because their 'job' as a mystery shopper is assessing the effectiveness of a money transfer outlet. However, the scammer's money never makes into your account, and you'll be seriously out of pocket.

Do not open .ZIP files that appear to contain Christmas promotions from McDonalds and Coca-Cola. Inside the file is a nasty worm that sucks up email addresses from your Windows Address Book and sends copies of itself via email.

Head over to Webuser for the full list of scams and threats you need to avoid this Christmas.


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