Memo to Muggles: Beware of Harry Potter scams

A series of online scams are targeting fans of the boy wizard and the new Pottermore site. I blame Voldemort.

Beware muggles -- you’re about to get taken by a particularly ancient form of witchcraft known as the online scam.

The scammers are targeting the hordes of Harry Potter fans who just can’t get enough of the bespectacled wizard and his cloying friends, despite 397 books and 72 movies. (OK, it’s only 7 books and 8 films, but it seems like so much more.)

[7 Harry Potter movies in 7 minutes and Hogwarts Recruiting Video: Poor Hufflepuff...]

They’re capitalizing on the interest in Pottermore, a site launching in October that promises to spew out even more tales of wizardry and warlocking. As GFI Labs security analyst Chris Boyd details, there’s not just one but several scams in the works

* Fake ebay auctions for “early access” memberships to the Pottermore beta. (Buy one now for only $100!). Even if the memberships were legit, selling or transferring them violates Pottermore’s terms of service. Careful, or they’ll turn you into a newt.

* Fake YouTube videos showing you a list of logons and passwords offering access to Pottermore. In order to "download access" (whatever that means), you'll be asked to first fill out a marketing survey. The scammers make affiliate commissions based on the survey, you'll soon start drowning in spam and telemarketing calls, and the “download” may well turn out to be malware, Boyd says.

* Poisoned search results. Google “Pottermore” and you may see links to malicious sites performing drive-by malware installs.

Of course, the worst part of this is that these scammers are preying on kids, who presumably would be more likely to click first and ask questions later, especially when it comes to all things Potter.

My kids have never been much for Harry and his bag of tricks (thank god), and now they’re a little old for it. But if yours are still enthralled, best to sit them down and have a little chat about safe surfing – before they get ensnared by the Dark Lord.

TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan is pretty good at spelling; spells? not so much. Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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