South West Sydney is choking on a thick radiation cloud after the Lucas Heights reactor exploded, according to spammers.
The bogus news story is part of a targeted spam campaign which hit the United Kingdom and Australia late last week following the construction of the Large Hadron Collider.
Readers were directed to a malicious attachment purporting to be photographs of the destruction.
Sophos Asia Pacific head of technology Paul Ducklin said users opened the malicious attachment out of curiosity, despite the fact multiple spelling errors and poor grammar made the story appear fake.
“This is an old-fashioned spam campaign since it carries its warhead as an e-mail attachment, rather than using a Web link as most spams and scams do these days,” Ducklin said.
“Don't take a peek, just delete it. Unfortunately, spammers still seem to be succeeding in peddling their wares – some users don't seem to be able to resist taking a quick look.”
The attachment, victims.zip, contains the Troj/Agent HQE Trojan which unpacks as oembios.exe when opened, creating a backdoor for hackers to steal user information.
Inboxes across the UK were hit with a similar bogus news story, claiming a reactor in London had exploded.
“This should remind us all how easy it is for spammers to tempt us with [fake news stories] that are apparently both topical and relevant,” Ducklin said.