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Russian Web Affiliates Aspires to Earn from H1N1 Pandemic

In the wake of H1N1 pandemic, Russian cyber assailants are duping unwary customers in an attempt to sell bogus swine flu medicines and benefit from the fears sparked by the flu, reports Web security firm Sophos.

Sophos claims that it intercepted several millions of spam e-mails and sites referring to the flu. This trend is particularly troublesome as in spite of low rates of infection and even lower rates of mortality, swine flu continue to inspire fear in a major portion of the population.

According to Reuters, cyber goons are targeting these fears by operating websites with apparently legal brand names, such as 'Canadian Pharmacy'. These phony websites trade fake drugs to unsuspecting customers. However, Sophos also fears that these sales are just a part of a big scandal that may put personal and credit card information of the customers at risk.

Generally, while victimizing the users, these spam messages promoting fake online pharmaceuticals offer shocking discounts on Viagra. However, the Russian gangs are shifting their focus from 79% discounts on Pfizer to offers for antiviral medication Tamiflu that is used to fight both seasonal as well as swine flu.

Search engine manipulation, spam e-mail and a host of other such malicious techniques are used to promote the sales of Tamiflu drug via fake unlicensed pharma websites. Moreover, Russia hosts a large number of Web affiliates known as Partnerka, which use various adware and spam-related marketing tactics to drive traffic to devious pharmaceutical websites.

The worst part is that these criminals are becoming rich from these schemes. Sophos research reveals that a person who operates such dodgy pharmaceutical sites earns an average of $16,000 in a day or $5.8 Million in a year. Further, some leading scammers who possess multiple affiliate networks can earn over $100,000 in a day.

Thousands of such affiliates work day and night and use illegal methods like malware, adware and spam to pull maximum traffic for their partner's stores, which make huge profits by selling these illegal products.

This warning about spam advertising fake pharmaceutical sites matches with a campaign launched by famous drug company Pfizer. In this warning informs that around 50-90% of medicines sold via unlicensed websites are fake.

Related article: Russian Hackers Break into NOAA to Push Pills

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