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In recent years, scammers have capitalized on major natural disasters like the Morocco earthquake by spreading misinformation online about supposed “hacking threats” related to the events. In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at how the Morocco earthquake scam worked, what motivated the scammers, and provide comprehensive guidance on how to avoid falling victim to the Morocco earthquake scam and similar fake news in the future.
Background on the Morocco Earthquake
In May 2023, a series of earthquakes hit parts of northern Morocco, devastating several towns near Chefchaouen. The strongest quake registered at a magnitude of 5.5 and caused significant damage to infrastructure as well as tragic loss of life. In the aftermath, relief efforts were underway as residents dealt with the profound impacts of this natural disaster.
The Morocco Earthquake Scam Emerges
As news of the Morocco earthquake spread worldwide, scammers saw an opportunity to exploit people’s fears and concerns. They began circulating messages on various social media platforms, including WhatsApp, warning users about a file called the “Seismic Waves CARD” supposedly containing exclusive photos from the Morocco earthquake. More alarmingly, the message claimed that opening this file could hack users’ phones within a mere 10 seconds.
Examining the Morocco Earthquake Scam Claim
Let’s delve deeper into why this warning was a scam rather than a legitimate security alert by analyzing some key details:
There is No Such File in the Morocco Earthquake Scam
Upon rigorous investigation, cybersecurity experts found no evidence to support the existence of an actual file or malware named “Seismic Waves CARD” in the Morocco earthquake scam. These hoax messages often employ invented, ominous-sounding names to add a deceptive veneer of credibility.
Photos Don’t Require Downloading in the Morocco Earthquake Scam
One critical inconsistency was that, on WhatsApp, users can simply view photos shared within the app without needing to download separate files, even in the case of the Morocco earthquake. This fundamental aspect of the claim didn’t align with the standard photo viewing behavior on the platform.
Malware Doesn’t Wait Before Infection in the Morocco Earthquake Scam
Furthermore, if a phone were somehow tricked into running malware in the Morocco earthquake scam, it wouldn’t delay infection for 10 seconds, as claimed. Malware typically seeks to infiltrate devices as swiftly as possible, aiming to evade detection.
Goal is Likely Phishing, Not Hacking in the Morocco Earthquake Scam
It’s essential to recognize that the real goal of these scams in the Morocco earthquake scam is usually to deceive recipients into visiting malicious websites or installing fake security apps that could enable hacking. Nevertheless, photos alone cannot automatically execute such actions.
Recurring Tactic for Disasters
The Morocco earthquake scam tactic of inventing fictional “hacking threats” related to current events has been observed in scams surrounding other natural disasters as well. It preys on the fear and desire to help those affected by such crises, making individuals more susceptible to manipulation.
Spreading Fear, Not Facts
Rather than sharing legitimate information about the Morocco earthquake and the ongoing relief efforts, these fraudulent messages aimed to create panic. They used technical buzzwords and an air of urgent warning to elicit fear. However, these claims crumbled under scrutiny, highlighting their deceptive nature.
So, in summary, the Morocco earthquake scam was essentially a phishing campaign disguised as a public warning, devoid of any concrete evidence to support the described security risk. Now, let’s examine ways for the public to avoid falling for the Morocco earthquake scam and similar scams going forward.
How to Spot Misleading Disaster Claims, Including the Morocco Earthquake Scam
To safeguard against falling victim to misleading disaster claims, including the Morocco earthquake scam, individuals should be vigilant and consider the following signs:
No Proof of the Threat
If a claim employs technical jargon but fails to reference credible evidence or reports from cybersecurity entities, it’s a glaring red flag.
Overly Urgent or Alarmist Tone
Threats that seem designed to provoke panic through fear-mongering language, rather than providing factual information, should be met with skepticism.
Recurring Tactic for Different Events
If the same fear-inducing formula keeps resurfacing after various crises, it’s likely that it doesn’t address any genuine dangers and should be treated with caution.
Goal Seems to Be Phishing, Not Protection
Messages primarily encouraging people to click links or install apps without presenting solid reasoning should raise suspicions.
Sticking to Trusted Sources
Rather than spreading viral warnings, it’s advisable to check official local authorities and reliable technical outlets for verified security updates pertaining to ongoing incidents, including the Morocco earthquake.
Taking a Step Back for Analysis
If in doubt, it’s prudent to refrain from spreading alarm until claims can be calmly fact-checked. This reduces the likelihood of unwittingly perpetuating hoaxes.
In conclusion, staying cautious and discerning when faced with exaggerated disaster claims like the Morocco earthquake scam can help individuals avoid becoming inadvertent vectors for scams masquerading as public alerts. With increased awareness, people can sidestep technically-dressed deception and instead focus their efforts on aiding genuine relief initiatives in times of crisis, including those related to the Morocco earthquake. By doing so, we can collectively combat misinformation and contribute to a safer digital environment for all. You can read news about the Morocco earthquake here