These chain emails could actually hurt you

KUSA – It's not news that the internet is full of spam and lots of fictitious photos. And now, scammers are combining them to get to your personal information.

Mark Koebrich combed the internet for fake photos that are nevertheless often shared. Keep an eye on these in your email – not only are they untrue, they could also harm your computer…and compromise your identity.

Here's a look at the photos he found:

Boeing 797

These photos of the 1,000 seat so-called Boeing 797 are fake, internet expert John Sileo confirms.

They use "social engineering" – in this case, the familiarity of the Boeing name – to draw you in.

"Yeah, [they] give you something you trust – that little development of trust – whether it's in the subject of the email or whatever, and they suck you in, hoping you click on it," he said.

Nancy Pelosi: Miss Lube Rack

A photo circulating the internet allegedly shows U.S. Representative and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as "Miss Lube Rack" of 1959. The email claims that she started "down at the gas station pumping ethyl with the boys."

The photo is real, but it's not Pelosi. It's spam, meant to damage Pelosi's reputation.

"It's not necessarily malicious in a technical way – it's malicious in a political way," Sileo said.

Pelosi does bear a resemblance to the girl in the photo, however, she would've only been 11 years old when the picture was taken.

Pirate Hunting Ship

Another email purports to show the USS Independence, a pirate hunting ship that's an aerodynamic marvel of naval engineering. The internet is full of pictures of it in sea trials – and sitting openly in an American port.

Any skeptic would call this fake, but it's actually real…and scammers want you to click on it.

"This is a case of them spamming out to a broad list – hoping they get it right," Sileo said. "[They're] either verifying the emails are good – because you reply back and say 'who is this.' I mean it's just really simple things that you're going – or potentially you forward on and reply all.

That's what they're looking for, and they're one of these people that are harvesting that information in that way."

They're great photos, and that's exactly where the danger lies.

"What they're doing is verifying the value of that email," Sileo said. "So it's worth a penny now, but when it's verified and you respond back to something, it's worth a dollar."

So what do you do?

Sileo says you should never open anything from anyone you don't recognize.

Also, turn off your computer at night because once they get access, the scammers can use your computer once you've walked away.

Don't turn off your computer at night? Don't worry: neither does 70 percent of corporate America.

You can see all of the photos here:

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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