Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

GoDaddy removed a cluster of more than 15,000 fraudulent website subdomains discovered by a researcher at Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 threat intelligence team.

Why it matters: The scam, which sold products like weight loss pills, used breached websites to add legitimacy to its sales and involved using fake celebrity endorsements.

Details: Jeff White, the researcher at Unit 42, started researching the network of sites more than 2 years ago when he noticed spam messages that looked visually similar and used similar language.

  • The products were sold on commission as part of an affiliate marketing program and used low initial pricing and tiny print to get people signed up for costly subscriptions.
  • The sales took place on hacked GoDaddy websites, where hackers had set up subdomains on legitimate websites. If Axios had been hacked, that would mean the fake web site would have a web address like "hacked.axios.com" rather than "axios.com."
  • The sites used fake endorsements from the hosts of "Shark Tank," Gwen Stefani and others.

What they're saying: "This type of spam is more pernicious than most people think," said Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat intelligence at Unit 42. "I know when I get one of these emails, I wonder how people can fall for it. But they appeal to desperate people's dreams."

Go deeper: Email scammers take advantage of Gmail dot feature

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Pelosi, Schumer demand postmaster general reverse USPS cuts ahead of election

Schumer and Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Thursday calling for the recent Trump appointee to reverse operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service that "threaten the timely delivery of mail" ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: U.S. mail and election infrastructure are facing a test like no other this November, with a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots expected as Americans attempt to vote in the midst of a pandemic.

2 hours ago - Science

CRISPR co-discoverer on the gene editor's pandemic push

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired and BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the development of CRISPR-based tests for detecting disease — and highlighting how gene-editing tools might one day fight pandemics, one of its discoverers, Jennifer Doudna, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Testing shortages and backlogs underscore a need for improved mass testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic tests based on CRISPR — which Doudna and colleagues identified in 2012, ushering in the "CRISPR revolution" in genome editing — are being developed for dengue, Zika and other diseases, but a global pandemic is a proving ground for these tools that hold promise for speed and lower costs.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 18,912,947 — Total deaths: 710,318— Total recoveries — 11,403,473Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 4,867,916 — Total deaths: 159,841 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.