[SCAM] How to Avoid Scams on Facebook

Category: 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.

Facebook Fake Friend

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.

Facebook fake staff ID 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...

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Most recent comments on "[SCAM] How to Avoid Scams on Facebook"

(See all 26 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

21 Mar 2016


Posted by:

21 Mar 2016

Quit using Face Book a long time ago. All I ever got out of it was junk e-mail. still getting it. just dumped 70 junk e-mails before reading this. If I could collect all the scam millions I was supposed to have won, I could pay off the national debt.

Posted by:

21 Mar 2016

Yes,I got one thur Messenger,going to give me 50.000 if I would text or call a phone number,I knew it was a fake,so at the end of me getting tired of playing,I ask them to answer around 4 questions that I knew the answers too,have not got anything back from them yet.

Posted by:

Linda Lindley
21 Mar 2016

A friend of mine got shut out of her account and was wiped off facebook as if she never existed. She disappeared from my friend list and from the list of mutual friends. All her photos were gone from everywhere she had every posted, even a group whose page she managed. The only picture I found of her was a cover photo group picture she was part of on another page. She had to start all over again with a whole new page and had to use her maiden as well as her married name so that her new page would be different from her old page. Besides, changing one's password often, how could this be prevented?

Posted by:

21 Mar 2016

I fallen for the sign in asking me to verify my password. I guess I was hacked but I have nothing on my Facebook page that is real and all leads to a dead end. I even set up a separate email account just for FB just to filter out all the garbage associated with both FB and Google. I keep identifying information on my computer to a minimum. I even used a bogus name when I installed the OS. If I've been hacked they wouldn't find much.

Posted by:

Top Squirrel
21 Mar 2016

Regarding scams, I have not heard from that nice man in Nigeria for a while. I do hope he's OK.
But I have heard from a guy calling himself Dr Lawrence Mensa, who says he's the Minister of Finance (of what, he doesn't say, but his email has an "ru" extension). And he's willing to give me $8 million plus. Could use of the Mensa name be an attempt to imply smart money?

I'm with Ginger. We may be two of the last people with internet access who have no Facebook account nor any intention to get one.
I still am puzzled as to why so many people get them, let along hang on them.
Is the need for sharing one's life with strangers so compelling?
Could it be a reaction to the alienation of modern life?

Posted by:

21 Mar 2016

I signed up with Facebook about 4 years ago but when I saw the stuff on it, I dumped it after a few months. I know someone that had their ID stolen and they duplicated her Facebook page. Someone would have to pay me to go back on Facebook or any other social media site.

Posted by:

Oliver Fleming
22 Mar 2016

My father always said "A fool and his money are soon parted"

"An honest man is very hard to cheat"

"Believe half of what you see and none of what you read and you will not ever go far wrong"

Posted by:

22 Mar 2016

It depends on how you use FB. I never aspired to have a great number of "friends"; I think my number is now at 58 or something like that. I know people who have hundreds. I get too much sent to me already. But I use FB not so much for the social aspects of it. I'm big into genealogy & have "friended" several pages that deal with areas or subject matter relating to that (descendants of the Mayflower, e.g.). I'm into politics so I get info from my US Congresswoman, some local politicians and then from a bunch of like-minded people who rail about what is going on. Our governor is one who's mentioned often on TV for his bizarro behavior so there are postings on that. I have "friended" a few relatives just to keep in touch with their activities. My closest friends don't use FB so I don't have a reason to chit chat on FB. I usually don't respond to friend requests; I just accepted one a few days ago because it was from a woman who's running for the state senate that I'd offered to volunteer for. So, bottom line, be selective with whom you "friend". Now, I'm off to delete the friend requests from all those names I don't recognize. Thanks, Bob.

Posted by:

Jay R
22 Mar 2016

If it was not for my children and some relatives, I would be more ignorant of FB than how a Puppeteer spends his Tuesday nights. On a positive note, it sends me birthday reminders so I don't have to invoke having yet another senor moment.

Posted by:

22 Mar 2016

I have always said that Facebook is dangerous, and it is, like most of the web it's being infiltrated by scum and the bad guys and now its becoming proven that Facebook is riddled with scams and viruses, it is also a perverts paradise and our kids should taught that Facebook friends are not real friends but just acquaintances or pen pals.
Why do people need pseudo friends? if its a need to belong they should join a local club and meet real people who will become proper friends.

Posted by:

22 Mar 2016

Facebook is named for the wrong end of the anatomy.
Delete it.

Posted by:

23 Mar 2016

As others have already said, the best way to avoid Facebook scams is to avoid Facebook.

Posted by:

23 Mar 2016

Another great article! Thank you, Bob.
I shared this on my own Facebook page to raise awareness to these types of scams. I also post all of your Geekly Updates for my friends to read.

Posted by:

abby normal
23 Mar 2016

Own personal recommendation is, do what I do, and that is Use Nothing But Fictictious , phony and fake information! And I guarantee YOU will never hear from them again. Another way and I have been told this really works, ASK THEM NUMEROUS QUESTIONS, without giving them a chance to answer the first one! You can have a Lot of Fun. I do it once in awhile when I am Bored!

Posted by:

Mary S.
23 Mar 2016

I joined Facebook to keep up with family members and friends who don't live nearby. There are also special interest groups I joined because of shared interests.

About six months ag, someone used my name to set up fake account, Thanks to vigilant friends, the fake was shut down in a couple hours.

Posted by:

Sheri K
23 Mar 2016

This is a really good article, and really needed to teach people about scamming. I have been scammed by 5 people just since December. Once they realize they won't get anything from you then they move on. Some things I have learned from them is;They tell you how much they love you within the first 6 hours of meeting you, the way they write you can tell English is not their native language, they want you to send them either - very expensive item's, open a bank account, or give them your bank account information, or receive an envelope through a wire service and send it to someone else. When you ask them to talk on the phone, they come up with a lot of excuses why they can't talk. The best way to handle a scammer is to not let them know you are on to them and block them right away. I hope this helps someone!! Thanks for reading.

Posted by:

23 Mar 2016

We all know that a fool and his money is soon parted I'm wondering how they ever got together in the first place.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2016

"...if you dip into the gene pool 1.5 billion times, you’re bound to touch bottom."


Posted by:

24 Mar 2016

Great article, Bob, and I have a question about it.

Was it a pure coincidence you knew someone with that name or was that person's friends list somehow compromised and everyone on it received the scam message?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I did have a friend with that name, and her account was compromised.

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