'Reporter Has Stroke On TV' Turns Into Facebook Scam

Hint: ignore the "check it out" link from your Facebook "friends"

During Sunday night's Grammy Awards, Los Angeles television reporter Serene Branson appeared to be having a stroke during a live report. She slurred words and at times spoke gibberish, what physicians describe as classic stroke symptoms.

Despite the fact that Branson says she's fine, the video of her on-air meltdown has gone viral on YouTube, and has become a tool for at least one Facebook scam, according to security experts at Sophos software.

In his blog Naked Security, Sophos security expert Graham Cluley reports Facebook users have started getting messages, which look like they are from friends, that say something like "OMG, this reporter had a stroke on Live TV check it out," followed by a link.

If you get this message, Cluley says, don't click on the link.

What happens if you do? You'll get a screen that tells you the video requires a "verified app" to be viewed. To get the app, you will be told, you'll need to click a button to download it.

The scammers' plan is to exploit interest in the Serene Brandon video, by tricking users into approving an application that will be able to access profiles and post messages onto the walls of Facebook accounts. Though you can't see it, your own Facebook account is reaching out to all your friends, encouraging them to click on the link and view the same video.

Cluley says the scam is spreading very quickly across the social networking site. The scammers make money by requiring you to fill out a brief survey before you can watch the footage. If you complete the survey, the scammers earn a fee. If you really want to see the footage, you should watch it directly on YouTube.

As for Branson, she reportedly did not seek emergency medical treatment as some media had reported. Her employers, CBS 2 in Los Angeles, said she did visit her physician the next day for some medical tests.

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