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Twitter Search Results for “Larry Merchant” Littered with Spam

Screenshot of Twitter search results littered with tweets linking to spam websites

On September 17th of 2011, boxing fans worldwide tuned into what was expected to be one of the more exciting matches of the year. The highly revered and undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. returned to the ring after a 16-month break to face Victor Ortiz, who entered the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the World Boxing Council welterweight champion. The bout ended with a fourth round knockout of Ortiz by the highly favored Mayweather, albeit via what some called in cheap shot fashion. During the post-fight interview conducted by renowned analyst, Larry Merchant, Mayweather justified his fourth round actions and retaliated against Larry’s questions about the controversial ending. At the end of his rant, Mayweather insulted Larry and demanded he be fired by HBO. Larry stamped the verbal exchange by stating that if he were fifty years younger he’d “kick” Mayweather’s “@*$.” As unlikely as that would ever be, the heated verbal exchange stunned the viewing masses, and online spammers quickly took note.

The day after the fight, Twitter search results became littered with tweets from fake users or bots using “Larry Merchant” as the keyword. The tweets contained links to spam websites about travel and cheap flight fares, and car and health insurance, all of which seemingly used the same design template. Sample URLs included:

  • Healthytreatmentguide.com
  • Easytravelanywhere.info
  • Biztravelaccess.com

zveloLABS noticed that the domains were only registered for one year–a common characteristic of malicious, phishing and spam websites. These spam websites rarely stay live that long, though. They are typically shut down within a few days or weeks. zvelo has categorized a multitude of these websites as “spam” and will automatically and periodically revisit the URLs in case they are taken down and purposely relaunched at a later time.

Twitter Search Results Littered with Spam Tweets
Following are screenshots of Twitter search results showing the tweets that contained the “Larry Merchant” query, along with the links pointing to spam websites:

Screenshot of Twitter search results littered with tweets linking to spam websites

Image 1: Spam on Twitter - these tweets pushed hot photos of Angelina Jolle and stated Larry Merchant suffered a heart attack

Screenshot of Twitter search results littered with tweets linking to spam websites

Image 2: Spam on Twitter - these tweets pushed Natalie Portman and Paris Hilton photos

Screenshot of Twitter search results littered with tweets linking to spam websites

Image 3: Spam on Twitter - more tweets using the "Larry Merchant" keyword to lure people to spam websites

Spam on Twitter – Fake User Account
The following example is a fake user account used to transmit spam on Twitter:

Fake user account used to spread spam on Twitter

Image 4: One of many fake user accounts used to distribute spam on Twitter

Spam Websites
The following screenshots are examples of spam websites that Twitter users were pushed to:

Screenshot of a spam website that Twitter users were pushed to

Image 5: Spam website about cheap flight fares and travel insurance

Screenshot of a spam website that Twitter users were pushed to

Image 6: Spam website promoting travel insurance and cheap flights

Screenshot of a spam website that Twitter users were pushed to

Image 7: Spam website pushing health insurance

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As zvelo's Web Media Manager, Armando Carrillo, Jr. oversees the company's website, zveloBLOG™, social media channels and spearheads all marketing and creative content development initiatives. Armando works closely with the talented zveloLABS® engineers and zvelo's multi-lingual quality assurance Web Analysts to identify, to raise awareness about, and to spark open discussions on the latest types of web security threats and web usage trends as it relates to zvelo's technologies and service offerings for the OEM market.

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Guest 20 Apr 2014