Just eight hours after Michael Jackson's death, cybercriminals unleashed the first wave of related spam, according to security firm Sophos.
The e-mails claim to have vital information about Jackson's death, but anyone replying to the message will unwittingly confirm their e-mail address, which criminals can use in future spam campaigns.
Recipients of any e-mails claiming to be about Jackson's death should be wary as this type of news story is a perfect vehicle for spammers, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
"These spammers are relying on curious users to reply to their bogus claims, but if you receive one of these messages you just need to delete it," he said.
Spammers are also exploiting interest in Farrah Fawcett, who also died yesterday, to spread fake anti-virus software, Cluley warned.
Internet metrics firms have reported that all major news sites and some social networking sites like Twitter have experienced delayed responses because of extremely high levels of traffic.