Facebook messenger scams


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For scams that involve money on Facebook, cyber criminals will either create fake accounts or hack into existing Facebook accounts of people you may know. The fake or compromised accounts will then try to trick you into giving them money by sending you personalized messages in Messenger. If a scammer tries to message you, report them.

Here are some common money scams you should look out for when sending and receiving money in Messenger:

  • Romance scams: Romance scammers typically send romantic messages to people they don’t know, often pretending to be divorced, widowed or in a bad marriage. In order to pay for things like flights or visas, they'll engage in online relationships in hopes of receiving money. They may use photos they've found online of representatives from official institutions like the military, or government agencies. Their goal is to gain your trust, so the conversations may continue for weeks before they ask for money.
  • Lottery scams: Lottery scams are often carried out from accounts impersonating someone you know, or fake profiles pretending to represent an organization. The messages will claim that you're among the winners of a lottery and that you can receive your money for a small advance fee. The scammer may ask you to provide personal information, such as your physical address or bank details.
  • Donation scams: These scams are done by accounts impersonating famous religious figures, or by accounts pretending to be representatives from various charities or orphanages. In the messages, the scammers will ask for donations.
  • Inheritance scams: The scammer will claim to be a lawyer or from another legal authority, pretending to represent the estate of a deceased person. The messages will state that you're entitled to the inheritance. The scammer may ask you to provide personal information such as your physical address or bank details.
  • Loan scams: Loan scammers send messages and leave posts and comments on Pages and in Groups offering, or claiming to know someone offering, instant loans at a low interest rate for a small advance fee.
  • Government grant scams: If an individual contacts you about an opportunity to obtain free money in the form of a grant from the federal government, be extremely wary.
  • Give me money, I'll return even more!: After duplicating your friend's account, scammers are using the account to get you to pay them with the promise of returning much more. Your "friend" will tell you that they paid an amount and received a huge return, and recommend you do it too.
  • Free coupons: You have probably seen this many times. You are promised free coupons at large retailers worth more than usual, or coupons for a free vacation. All you need to do is use your Facebook login on a site, and you'll get a free vacation—or your social media identity will belong to someone else without the vacation.
  • Is this you? Lol: This is a scam that has been around for some time. Usually, a link to a video is included with a description from a "friend." The link is normally a virus or browser hijacker.
  • The "Who Viewed Your Profile?" and "Someone unfriended you!" Scams: If you are active on Facebook, you have probably seen these. Facebook does not advertise these types of activities.
  • Contest Scams: This is another common scam, and it is as simple as setting up a fake page on Facebook, marketing it with a great contest, and collecting information from everyone that joined. One such scam claimed that those who shared the link would get a $1,000 IKEA gift card, and more than 40,000 people fell for it.

Other common Facebook scams:

  • Duplicating Your Account: Fraudsters can copy the email template from Facebook, which makes it look like you have an official message. Once you enter login information, the phishers can duplicate your account, hold it for ransom, or begin asking your friends for money or information.
  • Viral Videos: Since viral videos can be irresistible to most of us, they are often used by scammers. Malicious videos can install a virus onto your system if you click on the video or requests to update your video player. This scam can be shared with your friends, who believe the message they receive is safe since it looks like you shared it.
  • Identity Theft: Facebook accounts can be used to crack other passwords. If your account is duplicated, your information can be used to determine the answers to knowledge-based authentication questions that verify the identity of the account owner. Multi-factor authentication is a good idea to use on all of your accounts.
  • Burglary: Criminals also use Facebook to determine if a potential victim is at home or not. Publicly sharing information about vacations and other times away is exactly what burglars are looking for.
  • Geo-Stalking: Criminals can use the GPS technology of social media to stalk and find a target. You should turn off your social media location settings.

To protect yourself from scammers, watch out for the following:

  1. People asking you for money who you don’t know in person
  2. People asking you for advance fees in order to receive a loan, prize or other winnings
  3. People asking you to move your conversation off of Facebook (example: a separate email address)
  4. People claiming to be a friend or relative in an emergency
  5. Poor spelling and grammatical mistakes

How to Stay Safe on Facebook

  1. Do not “friend” strangers.
  2. Do not click on unsolicited links, and report suspicious requests.
  3. Do not pay for anything with gift cards.
  4. Do not engage with any government agency or bank through Facebook.
  5. Avoid people or accounts directing you to a page to claim a prize.
  6. When talking to a new Facebook friend, call the friend offline to make sure you're communicating with your actual friend.
  7. Report any impostor accounts to Facebook.

eFraud Prevention™, LLC