Scams come in all shapes and sizes, but cybercriminals love using social media to trick users. Using services like Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to impersonate someone else. Think you know all the government impersonator scams? Tap or click here for the latest scary twist.
The first step is gaining your trust. Then come requests for money, personal details, or the details of others who they can prey on. If you put your trust in the wrong person, consequences could be dire.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson a Facebook user found out the hard way. Read on for the tale of how someone got duped out of $5,000.
Here’s the backstory
Nobody thinks they’re going to be the victim of an online scam, but it’s surprisingly easy to get caught up in a mess before you realize what’s happening. One popular trick scammers use is impersonating Facebook friends. Why? You’re more likely to take a message seriously if you think a friend sent it, and we tend to lower our guard on social media compared to other means like email.
Recently, a Facebook user named Yvonne Lehman received a message from a friend. The contact supposedly won a “Facebook Freedom Award” and said she saw her friend’s name listed as a winner as well.
“She had won this contest, and she had seen my name on it too. So then she sent me the link to this person who handled it,” the woman explained to a Denver media outlet. The “prize” was $50,000.
The friend urged Lehman to get in contact with the competition’s agent. The first signs of a scam quickly became evident.. She was told to pay $500 “to secure the package.”
Lehman, not yet aware it was a scam, provided the fake agent with $500 in Apple gift cards. But that is rarely where scammers stop, and this trick was no different. She was then told all she had to do to get the full prize was pay $5,000 for the tax.
That’s what tipped her off, the urging to pay for customs and border fees. At this point, Lehman started to smell a rat and contacted the Facebook friend directly. To no one’s surprise, the friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. Lehman had been scammed out of $5,000.
What you can do about it
It can be easy to fall for a social media scam if you don’t know what to look out for. It also becomes tricky when the request seems to come from a family member or close friend. Here are some ways for you to stay safe on social media:
- Never respond to requests for money or details on social media. If you want to help, contact the person directly by another means.
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for all services that provide it. It’s an extra layer of protections to make sure hackers can’t access your account.
- If you receive a strange message on social media from someone you know, try to establish if it is the real person you are talking to or a cloned account. Give them a call, send a text or write an email to confirm.
- Got a message that you won a prize? If you don’t remember ever entering it, it is more than likely a scam.
🚨 What it means for you
There’s a reason the same old scams come back in different forms — they work! Here are a couple extra tips to keep in mind.
✅ There are countless ways cybercriminals come after you online. Often, their tricks lead you to download something you shouldn’t. Don’t download files you didn’t request or aren’t expecting, even if they came from a friend.
✅ If someone reaches out about an opportunity that’s just too good to pass up, especially on Facebook or another social network, take a pause before you act. Give your friend a call to talk about it. Maybe you’ll find out it wasn’t your friend behind the message at all.