Scammers exploit viral video of girl falling into fountain while texting

Filed Under: Facebook, Mobile, Rogue applications, Social networks, Spam

Fountain girlA YouTube video is beginning to be shared widely across the internet this weekend, apparently showing a girl in a mall, who is so distracted by sending text messages on her mobile phone that she falls into a fountain.

The footage appears to be taken from CCTV security cameras and you can hear the laughter of mall employees as they watch the girl time and time again fall face first into the fountain.

(This does, of course, raise questions of privacy if the video was not staged. Should security workers really be posting CCTV footage onto YouTube for entertainment purposes? But that's a debate which is off-topic for the purposes of this article.)

What's most of interest to Naked Security readers is that scammers appear to be exploiting the rising popularity of the video for their own financial ends.

Experts at Sophos have discovered a rogue application on Facebook which sends links from your profile, claiming to point to the video - but which are really intended to generate income for the scammers by making you complete surveys and compromise your account to spread the links even further.

Imagine you see a message like the following posted by one of your Facebook friends. Would you click on the link?

Girl falls into fountain while texting

If you were to click then you would be taken to a flashy advert for the video you are about to see:

Girl falls into fountain while texting

The page reads:

GIRL FALLS IN TO FOUNTAIN BECAUSE SHES TOO BUSY TEXTING TO LOOK UP!

This is why your not supposed to text and drive or even text and WALK apparently! This chick epic failed by walking in to a water fountain because she was too busy talking on her phone to PAY ATTENTION TO WHATS IN FRONT OF HER

EPIC FAIL!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE WHOLE VIDEO!

If you do click to see more, then you are asked to give permission for a third-party Facebook application to access your account.

Girl falls into fountain while texting

As you can see (if you bother to read the small print), the rogue application wants to access your name, gender, list of friends, profile picture and other information. It also requests the rights to post to your wall (including any Facebook pages you manage) and even email you directly.

Should this really be necessary in order to watch a video that's freely available on YouTube?

Unfortunately some people won't worry about their privacy at this point, and happily give the application written by complete strangers to access their accounts in order to spread the spammy message.

So what have the bad guys got to gain from this? Well, they try to trick you into completing a survey before you can watch the video.

Girl falls into fountain while texting

Remember, the video is freely available on YouTube, where you don't need to complete any surveys. And everytime you complete the survey then you earn a little commission for the scammers who are spreading the messages. We have been in contact with Facebook's security team, and asked them to shut down the offending pages.

So don't make it easy for the scammers, and always be very cautious about what applications you allow to access your Facebook profile.

Here's a YouTube video where I show you how to clean-up your Facebook account if you were hit by this, or similar scams:

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

Keep your wits about you and stay informed about the latest scams spreading fast across Facebook. One of the best ways to do that is to join the Sophos Facebook page, where more than 50,000 people regularly share information on threats and discuss the latest security news.

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4 Responses to Scammers exploit viral video of girl falling into fountain while texting

  1. Jingeleimer-Schmidt · 1345 days ago

    People that are actually stupid enough to fall for these scams deserve what they get. Seriously, allowing access to your profile is just asking for something bad to happen.

    • Liberals Can Eat Me · 1345 days ago

      LOL! They may deserve it but it's still not right. My sister is an idiot and doesn't bother reading stuff like this or fine print. According to her "she just doesn't have time for all that stuff". I don't think it's fair to let someone who is ignorant fall for this crap, so just give your moronic friends and family a heads up, lmao!

  2. BWS · 1345 days ago

    But the video IS pretty funny. No worries about privacy, really. You wouldn't be able to identify her if she were your next door neighbor. I wonder how her phone fared.

  3. Temporaldoom · 1340 days ago

    There are initial headlines that call this 49-y.o. woman as a "girl", which pretty much proves that there's no way to identify the age of the "victim" much less her identity. Thus, privacy is not an issue. Violation of security policy for the release of the footage, most likely.

    She's at a public place and should have no expectation of privacy. Just think, if this is someone filming the mall and thus a private video not a security video, would it be any different? Would she sue the person filming the video if he or she post it on YouTube/Failblog?

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.