Inbox Insider: Spammers disguised as legitimate brands

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Spammers are sly. So it's no wonder they take advantage of popular brands' reputations to pull one over on the consumer. This past week saw two spam attacks in which e-mails appeared to be from legitimate brands.

The malicious e-mails – one pretending to be from American Airlines and another appearing to originate from The New York Times – were actually spam messages sent with malware attachments.

According to MessageLabs, an anti-spam company, one set of e-mails appeared to be from the “Times Reader” service. The messages displayed a promo for “Times Reader 2.0” software and solicited the reader to click on the attachment, which triggered viral malware.

The American Airlines spam e-mail pretended to come from the AAdvantage loyalty program, according to the airline. The malicious message offered consumers free miles and coupons in exchange for booking a first-class or business-class ticket. The message asked recipients to click on links to a malware site.

Despite receiving an e-mail from a familiar brand, consumers should always be aware of the sender and check if links are really for the domains they claim to be from.

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