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Scammers using search optimization on Twitter, Google

Online scammers are finding out what's popular on Google and Twitter and seeding tweets and search results with links to sites that have malware, PandaLabs says.

Updated June 5 10:50 a.m. PST to clarify that scammers were blending their tweets in with legitimate tweets on an already popular PhishTube topic.

Online scammers are targeting people looking for popular topics on Twitter and Google to lure them to Web sites that display fake security warnings and try to sell them antivirus products, PandaLabs said on Wednesday.

This technique isn't new, but seems to be widening on Google and is particularly successful on Twitter where links are spread fast and furiously and people often don't think before they click.

Scammers took advantage of the popularity of "PhishTube Broadcast" on Twitter in order to spread links to sites with fake antivirus malware. PandaLabs

In the Twitter scam, hundreds of fake accounts have been posting tweets that reference the band Phish, which has a cult-like following, according to a PandaLabs blog.

There were so many of the tweets, which say "PhishTube Broadcast," that the term showed up in the Trending Topics list. While there were many legitimate tweets for that topic, scammers posted tweets that contained links that eventually lead to spoof porn pages that infect victims with the fake antivirus malware if they click anywhere on the page, PandaLabs said.

PandaLabs researchers also discovered links to malicious Web sites high up in searches on Google for "Microsoft" and its "Project Natal" gaming technology. The malicious sites display fake messages saying the computer is infected with viruses and offer to sell antivirus software.

The researchers then tried other popular searches and found 16,000 malicious links targeting "YouTube," 10,500 targeting "France" and "airline crash" and thousands of others targeting people searching on "E3," "Sony," and "Eminem" with "MTV Awards" or "Bruno," according to another PandaLabs blog post.