The worst of the worst phishing scams

The depths a phishing scammer will stoop to in order to gain a buck are remarkable. Here are some of the bottom feeders to guard against in your inbox.


Anything for a buck

No one is immune to the regular enslaught of spam and various scams that run across our inboxes. Just when you think the circumstances can't get any worse, another disaster strikes that makes way for another opportunity by scammers. Here are some more famous ones.


Funeral notification phishing scam

The bad guys did not hesitate to exploit the most basic fears of people; the sudden death of a loved one. The message claimed to be from a funeral home and notified the recipient about an upcoming funeral and instructed them to click a link to view their invitation and more details about the ceremony.

courthouse gavel

Court Notice to Appear

Scammers are sending phishing emails claiming to come from a real law firm called 'Baker & McKenzie' stating you are scheduled to appear in court and should click a link to view a copy of the court notice. If you click on the link, you download and install malware.

ebola vaccine

Ebola Virus as Bait

During its peak in fall 2014, the US-CERT issued a warning against email and cyber campaigns using the Ebola virus outbreak as a theme, again, preying on fear.


eBay troubles

Last year's eBay debacle resulted in the loss of 145 million credentials. To add insult to injury eBay made the inexcusable mistake of sending its users an email WITH A LINK THEY NEED TO CLICK. This confused customers and made them easy targets.

jennifer lawrence 2011

Nude Celebrity Photos Scam

Jennifer Lawrence Nude Pictures Phishing used her popularity to post the ultimate male click bait and expose a bug in iCloud. The news carried this event and phishers exploited it.

irs audit

You Owe Taxes, Pay Now or Else

This scam uses intimidation to prey on ​victims using threats of arrest, deportation or loss of business or a drivers license. This showed up with both phishing emails and spoofed caller IDs prompting a warning from the US Treasury.

maylasia airline

MH17 Airplane Crash

Nearly 300 people shot down and all the criminals thought of is how to exploit the disaster via email and social media links including fake video links sending clickers to porn sites.

robin williams

Robin Williams "goodbye" video

A bogus Facebook phishing message appeared that invited users to click a link and see an "exclusive" video of Robin Williams saying goodbye through his cell phone.  Of course there was no video, and the link led to a bogus BBC news page which tried to trick clickers into clicking on other links that led to scam online surveys.

Stu Sjouwerman is the Founder and CEO of KnowBe4, LLC. An IT Security expert with 30+ years in the industry, he is the author of four IT books, with his latest being Cyberheist: The Biggest Financial Threat Facing American Businesses Since the Meltdown of 2008.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.