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3 Facebook scams spreading this weekend

3 Facebook scams spreading this weekend
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Facebook is a scammer's dream come true. Where else can they find an easy-to-reach audience of 1.3 billion people? Even if only 1% of people see the scam and only 1% of those people fall for the scam, that's still 130,000 people, and you could be one of them if you aren't careful.

Spotting Facebook scams can be tough because they come in a lot of different forms. Earlier this year, we told you about five common types of scams you'll find on Facebook. Knowing what to look for in general is good, but today we're going to warn you about three specific scams happening right now that you need to avoid.

1. Lottery scam

If you get a message from a Facebook friend saying that they've won a $30,000 lottery on Facebook, watch out. That's exactly what happened to a Nevada woman this week.

Someone on Facebook named Theresa Paddock contacted her to tell her she won the lottery. To get her money, however, she'd have to wire $150 to cover "insurance" and other fees. She did, but didn't get her winnings. Instead, some man started reaching out to her to try and get more from her.

If this sounds familiar, it's because we reported the same scam tricking an Indiana woman a few months ago. In the case of the Indiana woman, she wired $850, and then got asked to wire more to get an even bigger prize.

Of course, in the case of the Indiana woman, hackers had taken over a friend's Facebook page and were using that relationship to trick her. In both cases, the victims aren't going to see their money again.

How to avoid this scam:

  1. If a friend tells you they won something and you can too, call or email them and make sure you're actually talking to them.
  2. Don't send money to someone with the promise of getting money or a prize back. It's called an "Advanced fee" scam, and it never ends well.
  3. Never wire money to anyone, whether it's through Western Union, MoneyGram or another service. Once you wire money, it's gone forever.

2. Grant scam

This is very similar to the lottery scam above, but it's racing through some states, especially West Virginia, like wildfire. In this variation of the scam, a Facebook "friend" will let you know about an opportunity to get grants from the United Nations and Government. One West Virginia resident was tricked after thinking it was a former state senator who was promoting these.

The grants are listed specifically for "retired, working, widowed and disabled people," which is a despicable tactic, but typical for scammers. On West Virginia resident was tricked into sending the scammer a $250 Wal-Mart pre-paid debit card. Fortunately, they got wise before sending off a requested $2,500.

Just like requests to wire money, requests for pre-paid debit cards should raise red flags. Once these are out of your hands, they're gone for good. And, of course, any requests for money that promise you money in return are always fake.

How to avoid this scam:

  1. If a friend tells you about a way to make easy money, there's something wrong.
  2. Don't send money to someone with the promise of getting money or a prize back. It's called an "Advanced fee" scam, and it never ends well.
  3. Never send someone a pre-paid debit card with the promise of getting money in return. Once you mail it off, it's gone.
  4. Check with the organization supposedly providing the grant. Actual grants are extremely difficult to get and require a ton of paperwork. If you're really interested in grants, find out how they work and where you can get them legitimately.

3. Airline ticket scam

If you're in the mood for travel, you might be tempted with the news that British Airways is giving away free flights for a year. You just have to share the photo, like the page and comment to win.

It's even coming from the "British Air" Facebook page, so it must be legitimate, right? Nope. It's also a scam.

Sadly, this is a common scam, often using Delta. The two latest "Delta" scams tricked 65,000 and 22,000 people respectively. "Virgin Airlines" was also offering free tickets for a year if you liked its page. "Qantas" had a similar thing happen back in March. That scam got 100,000 people to share it.

How to avoid this scam:

  1. Your first clue this isn't a legitimate offer is that British Airway's real name is "British Airways." If you see "British Air," "British Airway" or some other variation on Facebook, then you're looking at a fake.
  2. The real airline page will have a blue checkmark next to the name indicating it's a verified profile. Just be sure to hover your mouse over the checkmark. It should pop up a little box that says "Verified Page." If it doesn't, then it's part of the background image and you're on a fake page.
    britishair
    That's true for any other airline as well.
    delta
  3. Very few companies run contests exclusively using Facebook. If a company posts about a contest, you need to click a link to visit a contest sign-up page that includes, among other things, a mountain of fine print.
  4. Even if a Facebook post has a link to a standalone contest page, still check that it's really a contest from that company by finding the contest through the company's home page. It could just be a more elaborate scam designed to get your information.

Bonus: Another ticket scam

This isn't the only airline ticket scam. Occasionally people will post on Facebook groups saying that they have a $200 (or another amount) voucher for an airline that they can't use before it expires.

It's your lucky day because they're willing to sell it to someone for half price. Predictably, if you do send the person the money (often requested as a wire transfer), you'll never get the voucher.

For real ways to save on air travel, or any other kind of travel, check out Komando.com's travel tips that cover flying, hotel booking and even cruises.

We're also launching a new free "Travel with Kim" newsletter soon. Sign up if you want the latest travel news and tips delivered right to your inbox every week.

Like Kim on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kimkomando

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