[SCAM] How to Avoid Scams on Facebook
With 1.5 billion users, Facebook is the world’s largest social network - and also the biggest target for scammers. It’s impossible to count all the fake friend requests, promotions, heart-rending appeals for donations, and other shenanigans that are circulating on Facebook at any given time. But here are some of the most common ones, and some tips on spotting scams before you get taken...
Facebook: #1 with Scammers
One recent morning, I got a friend request from a person I know in real life, but hadn't talked to in a while. I confirmed it, and then soon after, got an instant message from "Barb" asking how I was doing. After one round of chit-chat, "Barb" says "Did you hear the good news?" Umm, no, I hadn't. "I just won money from the Facebook owner, for the Grant promo." Bing! Scam alert. I checked and found that I already had the real Barb as a friend, and this new "friend" was out to pull a scam of some sort.
Fortunately, within hours the fake account was shut down. But not everyone is so lucky. A new Jersey man named Frank lost $50,000 in a Facebook scam, perpetrated by someone who pretended to be "Kim," who claimed to be a U.S. Army sergeant stationed in Afghanistan. "Kim" needed to get a package worth millions of dollars to the U.S. and promised to give Frank a share of the booty. Frank sent money for legal fees, shipping fees and customs fees. This scam played out over several months, before Frank realized he was pranked.
These fake frienders like "Barb" or "Ronald" (see photo) often represent themselves as a Facebook employee. They will tell you that you’re one of 20 lucky members who won $500,000 in the “Facebook Lottery.” All you have to do to claim the prize is give them your name, address, phone number, email address, and bank account routing info for “direct deposit” of your winnings.
But Facebook doesn’t run a lottery. It also doesn’t give away large sums of Facebook credits used primarily in games; those cost money, too. In fact, Facebook doesn’t give away anything, so if you’re offered a Facebook freebie you can instantly assume it’s a scam. Facebook has no employees with the title, “Claim Agent.”
A friend request from someone you know in real life should be double-checked before you accept it. Like me with Barb, you may already be friends with that person. Looking at the profile page of the person who wants to be friends can also provide clues. Is it a bare-bones page without much activity, friends, likes, etc.? It’s probably been set up in the past ten minutes just to target you with a friend’s name.
Real Friend or Fake Foe?
It's bad enough to have false friends in real life, but the online variety can mimic someone you know with ease. It's common for the scammer to copy the real person's full name and profile photo, to add credibility to the friend request. The “friends you have in common” indicator on Facebook friend requests is also no guarantee of authenticity. Scammers troll for new “friends” precisely so they can use those connections to bolster their bona fides with the victim’s circle of friends. Again, check the requester’s Facebook page. Do you see any posts from your real friends? If not, it’s probably bogus.
Clone Zone is a “service” of New York-based 4REAL, a “digital agency” that is just begging to be sued from Manhattan to China. Clone Zone lets anyone create a fake Web site that mimics any other site; just provide the site’s URL and you can pretend to be the BBC, a political candidate, the FBI, or a major bank. You can edit text and images on your fake site. Then share the Clone Zone URL on Facebook (or Twitter, or other social media) and “watch the viewers roll in.” It’s all fun and games until someone gives their bank account password to a scammer, or wires thousands of dollars to reserve an AirBnB listing that does not exist.
Fortunately, the URL of every fake site created on Clone Zone ends with, “clonezone.link.” If you faked the NASA website, for instance, the URL would be www.nasa.gov.clonezone.link. Hover your cursor over linked text to reveal its underlying URL; if it’s on clonezone.link don’t go there. And if a real friend thought it was funny to fake you out, consider unfriending him.
Whatever other shortcomings Facebook staff may have, all of them do know how to write coherently in whatever language they’re using. A sure sign of a scammer is someone who purports to work for Facebook but writes like this: “There’s an online draws that was conducted by a random selection of Emails you were picked by an advanced automated random computer search from the Facebook in other to claim your five hundred thousand us dollars(500,000.00)”
Don’t believe this post came from a Facebook staffer, even if it’s accompanied by a “staff ID” signed by Mark Zuckerberg. I found it hard to believe that Facebook members were earnestly debating the authenticity of this ID. But if you dip into the gene pool 1.5 billion times, you’re bound to touch bottom.
The “Your Facebook Account Is About To Be Closed!” scam has been around a long time because it is very effective. It induces panic, and people don’t think clearly when they fear their precious Facebook account is in dire jeopardy. The click the provided link to “verify identity,” provide all the contact info demanded, including their Facebook login credentials and “secret question” answers, and even supply credit card details to prove who they are. Just remember that Facebook will never ask you to send your login credentials via Facebook messaging… ever! And check the URL of any form to make sure it’s hosted on facebook.com before you complete it.
Have you gotten fake friend requests on Facebook? Do you know anyone who has been scammed that way? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Mar 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [SCAM] How to Avoid Scams on Facebook (Posted: 21 Mar 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved