It's not the first time that Johnny Depp has died according to the Internet, but this time he is not alone. According to an ongoing online campaign, celebrities including Beyonce, Bon Jovi, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and David Beckham have all been killed in tragic circumstances. Perhaps surprisingly Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber have escaped unharmed for now.

The last time we reported that Johnny Depp had not been killed in a car crash there was no overtly malicious intent, but rather just Twitter getting carried away with itself after someone picked up on an old hoax headline which had resurfaced. This was, of course, soon followed by the bad guys using the online uncertainty surrounding the fate of the movie star to try and distribute malware. The first to appear being a bog-standard 'download the video' scam purporting to show footage of the car crash which had killed Johnny Depp but actually just loading some PC zombie-creating Trojan or other.

This latest dead celebrity outbreak doesn't bother trying to be too clever, instead just jumping straight in with a bunch of emails using headlines suggesting a star is dead to entrap the unwary user. If you receive a message stating that 'Jay-Z died" or 'Johnny Depp died' or 'Kanye West Fatal Car Crash' you can be pretty sure they did not and the scammers are at work. Ask yourself why a total stranger would send you an email informing you that Tom Cruise had died in a plane crash which also killed 30 other folk, and inviting you to visit an equally unknown news site to get more information.

The security boffins over at Symantec reckon that the company is currently tracking a veritable explosion of dead celebrity spam , most of which claim a car accident or plane crash to be the cause of the demise. The payload, it would seem, comes in the form of virus infected HTML or attachments in compressed zip archive format.

Of course, the clever money suggests you act your age and not your shoe-size even when online and simply delete any such message which evades your spam filter. If you must read such drivel, at least try not to let your clicking finger get busy.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...