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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

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”