The second quarter of 2021 saw a rise in online frauds and phishing by capitalizing on the buzz surrounding the most-anticipated movies, shows or series, including one campaign exploiting on the buzz around the telecast of “Friends: The Reunion.”

Last week, researchers at ‘Kaspersky’ released their analysis of second-quarter trends in which they found several fake sites that were supposedly hosting video for the much-anticipated special episode of the popular show. Fans who tried to watch or download the video on these sites were redirected to a Columbia Pictures splash screen and after a few seconds the broadcast stopped, replaced by a request to pay a nominal fee.

Such fake sites also cropped up in late April too, around the time of the Academy Awards. These sites were offering ‘free viewings’ of the Academy Award-nominated movies. After launching a video, the visitor was shown several clips of the movie which were usually taken from the official trailer itself before being asked to pay a small subscription fee to continue watching. But the video did not resume even after the payment of the ‘subscription’, instead the attackers got a new bank account to target.

The appearance of fake sites offering audio or video content for free before release is common with many big-budget movies or shows.

By – Nandini Dwivedi

Legal Intern, WCSF

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