Saturday May 19, 2007

By Martin Evans

THE family of Madeleine last night slammed sick opportunists who have cashed in on the tragedy by launching bogus websites.

A number of internet sites have registered addresses similar to the official campaign, in the hope of exploiting the worldwide publicity.

Madeleine’s uncle John McCann hit at the “parasites” responsible.

More than 60million people worldwide have logged on to the official website with messages of support, information and pledges of cash since its launch on Wednesday.

The site – accessed through findmadeleine.com or bringmadeleinehome.com – is hosting a million users at any one time. But a series of websites based in California have been registered with similar addresses but different spellings of Madeleine advertising ringtones and online casinos.

Every time a user logs on, even if by mistake, the owners of the site receive money from advertisers.

A web expert said that such activity was not unusual when there was a major news event and likened it to “electronic flyposting”.

John McCann said: “It’s a shame people behave like this and exploit the generosity of the general population. I am loath to use the word parasites, but unfortunately that is what it seems like.”

As part of the family’s campaign a video of Madeleine will be broadcast at today’s FA Cup Final on the big screens at Wembley.

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