Spam messages promise Google+ invites, deliver drug ads

After Google pulls invites to its social network, spammers seize the moment

It's the hottest invitation in technology right now -- an e-mail telling you how to "learn more about Google+." If you get one, though, be careful about clicking on it. It may be spam.

Security vendor Sophos says that pharmaceutical spammers have recently started to cash in on the popularity of Google's Facebook alternative by pushing out fake invitations to the Google+ social service.

"The messages look similar to the real emails that users may receive from friends who are already members of Google+," wrote Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley in a Friday blog post. "However, clicking on the links will not take you to the new social network, but instead take you to a pharmacy website set up to sell the likes of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra."

Google introduced its new service on Tuesday. Early members were encouraged to invite their friends, but on Wednesday Google stopped adding new members because of the "insane demand," according to Vic Gundotra, the senior vice president of Google's social media group.

Spammers are always looking to cash in on the latest news trends, but with these fake Google+ invites, they've lucked into an ideal scam. Many people are eager to click on Google+ to see exactly what the service is all about.

"The spammers are no doubt hoping that the email will be too hard to resist for many people eager to see Google's new social network, although just how many users will be tempted to buy drugs online is a mystery," said Cluley.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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