Facebook scams are nothing new. The social media giant has roughly 2 billion active monthly users worldwide, which makes it a goldmine for cybercriminals. We've been warning you that like-farming scams have been popping up all over the site lately.
Now, you really need to watch out for an old-style scam that Facebook users are falling for all over again. Police are warning social media users to be on the lookout for versions of a classic trick.
Watch out for classic scam fooling Facebook users
A recent example was reported by a victim in Kentucky. Richard Holcomb said that he has been swindled out of $2,000.
Holcomb told NBC News, "I was informed that Bill and Melinda Gates were giving grants for Facebook users...and apparently my name, or Facebook address came up as a winner. They had so many things to it that it looked realistic. They gave me batch numbers, serial numbers, license numbers. It was very realistic."
How the scam works is, the victim receives a message from one of their Facebook friends. The "friend" tells the victim that they had recently won a large sum of money and that they too have been selected as a winner.
In Holcomb's case, the cybercriminal behind the scam actually chatted with him on Facebook Messenger to discuss the money. In reality, the scammer had spoofed the friend's Facebook account, making it appear to be Holcomb's friend. This made Holcomb believe he had actually won the money.
The scammer told Holcomb that he was to receive $150,000. Of course, before he could collect the money, he needed to send $500 for taxes.
Holcomb sent the $500. The next day, the fraudster told him that the IRS was asking for an additional $1,500. He sent that as well.
A few days later, Holcomb ran into his friend and he brought up the money. He was shocked to find out that it wasn't actually her that he was speaking with over Messenger and that he had been ripped off.
This isn't the first time we've seen an incident like this on Facebook and it definitely won't be the last. That's why you need to be prepared and know what to watch out for.
How to avoid Facebook scams
It's very important that you proceed with caution when using social media. Here are some quick ways you can avoid scams and protect your Facebook account against various threats.
- Update your Facebook security settings - If it's been a while since you tweaked your settings, it's a good idea to run through Facebook's security checkup. Keeping your account private and secure can help you stay out of sight from hackers and scammers.
- Never send money without verifying the scenario - If a 'friend' on Facebook sends you a message like this, claiming you have been selected to receive money, call them on the phone or visit them in person. Cybercriminals can easily spoof Facebook accounts that can trick you into believing you're speaking with a friend when in reality it's a fraudster.
- Be cautious with links - If you get a notification or see a post that you find suspicious, don't click on its links. It's better to type the website's address directly into a browser than clicking on a link. Before you ever click on a link, hover over it with your mouse to see where it is going to take you. If the destination isn't what the link claims, do not click on it.
- Do an online search - If you see an ad that makes outrageous claims, like Sylvester Stallone has died, instead of clicking on the post, do an online search on the topic. If the story is true you will find it on a legitimate news source.
- Watch for typos - Scams are infamous for having typos. If you see an ad that is riddled with spelling and grammar errors, they're most likely fake.