Eugene Reid was ecstatic to find out he had won a lottery through Facebook. A "friend" (more on that later) sent him a hot tip recommending a lottery site. When Reid called the organization, he discovered he was on a winners list, due to receive $150,000.
"I had so much confidence in these people because it sounded so real," Reid told his local news station, KY3.
Here's the catch: In order to receive his money, he needed to pay a fee that the scammers called a "task clearance fee that they said all recipients had to pay $1,500 for." The only problem is, Reid made several payments and it ended up costing him close to $50,000 - and he never got his winnings.
Unfortunately, Reid isn't the first, or last person for that matter, to fall for this somewhat tricky scam. Earlier this year, one woman in New Mexico was duped out of $10,000.
How? Why? It all starts with the Facebook fake friend scam. Hackers re-create an existing Facebook profile using their victim’s profile picture and “About” information. Criminals then use the phony new profile to send friend requests to that same person’s Facebook friends.
Once accepted, the stranger then has access to your personal details like your status updates, location, birthday and even your photos. On top of that, criminals can chat with you online, tricking victims into thinking they are chatting with friends - friends that you can trust, and why would they scam you?
If you're concerned about scams, here are three important tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
- If you win the lottery, know that you'll never have to pay to get your money.
- With the fake Facebook friend scam running rampant on the site, verify these stories and details with your friends in real life - just to make sure it's really them giving you the recommendation.
- Be very wary of friend requests and messages from people you don’t know.
- It's also a good idea to tighten your security settings so that only your Facebook friends can view your profile, photos and other info. Also, go into the “Friends” section of your activity log. At the top, it says, “Who can see your friend list?” In the drop-down, select “Friends,” rather than “Public.”
- Always be on the look out for typos and grammar mistakes in any print or digital material like emails or on a website.
- Always hover over links and verify where they direct you before you click.
Other resources you can use:
- For more ways to easily spot a scam, click here. These tips and tricks can help you know what to look for and how to tell the difference between real and fake.
- Here are three more stories of people who have been duped. Click here to learn from their mistakes.
- Find out how to foolproof your life and your money by spotting the telltale signs of scammers' modern mind tricks. Click here to listen to this important podcast.
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