Facebook Users Warned About Scammers Abusing MH17 Crash

Facebook Inc. (FB) users in Australia have been warned that scammers are exploiting the crash of a Malaysian Air jet in eastern Ukraine last week.

“Scammers have set up false Facebook profiles for Australian victims of the tragedy in an attempt to make money from people” seeking more information, the Australian competition and consumer authority said on its SCAMwatch website. “The profiles direct people to a blog, where they are then bombarded with dubious advertisements.”

Flight MH17 was on route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam on July 17 when it was downed over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Facebook users who click on the link to the blog will encounter pop-up advertisements, SCAMwatch said. Scammers will make money if users click on an advertisement, driving potential customers to a business’s website, it said.

“We are disabling these profiles as soon as we are made aware of them,” Tina Kulow, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We encourage people to block those responsible and report suspicious behavior to our team of experts via our reporting buttons so that we can quickly take the appropriate action. Our teams act swiftly on this.”

Dozens of Dutch victims and at least six Australians were abused as advertising bait, Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad said today. If this happened, the perpetrators will be found and prosecuted, Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten was cited as saying by Algemeen Dagblad.

The Netherlands lost 193 citizens when the Boeing Co. (BA) 777 crashed, making it the worst-hit nation, while Australia lost 27.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martijn van der Starre in Amsterdam at vanderstarre@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mariajose Vera at mvera1@bloomberg.net; Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net Robert Valpuesta, Ville Heiskanen

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