Haiti dominates spam headlines in January

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Earthquake scams abound as users seek to donate.

The January earthquake in Haiti has sparked a boom in spam messages backed by online scams, according to Symantec.

The company said in its most recent State of Spam report that messages related to the quake accounted for as much 21 per cent of the total spam load.

Among the scams associated with the disaster were phony charity messages, soon followed by phishing and malware attacks.

"Spammers started with 419 type spam, asking users to donate money to a charity," the company wrote in the report.

"Building off of this, spammers began to send phishing messages pretending to be from a well-known legitimate organisation like UNICEF."

The surge in online scams was not unexpected. Following the quake, experts throughout the security industry warned users that cyber criminals would likely seek to profit from increased interest in the disaster and donation efforts.

Also a favourite tactic among spammers lately has been Valentine's Day materials, with messages offering both gifts and pharmaceuticals related to the holiday.

Overall, Symantec reported that the EMEA region was responsible for the largest share of the spam load with 42 per cent. Among individual countries, the US far outpaced the rest of the world with a 24 per cent spam share, followed by Brazil with six per cent, and India with five per cent.

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