Facebook has become one of the most popular platforms for interactions between friends, family members and coworkers. While Facebook has implemented a litany of security protocols to protect the privacy of its user, the human side of the social networking tool still has vulnerabilities to users with nefarious intent. Hackers take advantage of Facebook apps to still sensitive information, and that stolen information can be used to prey on friends of the victim.
A recent Facebook scam involves using a hacked Facebook account to swindle money out of the hacked user’s friends. Under the guise of a trusted friend, a hacker claims to have been a victim of a mugging while on vacation. Playing on the pity of the hacked user’s friends, the hacker request that the user’s friends send money via wire transfer to bail him or her out of precarious situation while abroad. To avoid falling victim to this scam, there are some precautions you should take and some things you should look out for.
What to Look Out for:
Wire transfers requests are the hallmarks of a scam. The scammer simply needs the money transfer’s verification code and an ID — which can be forged — to receive money you’ve sent, while a transfer to a friend’s bank account would require possession of the friend’s bank card and personal identification number.
Look for unusual or erratic behavior as well. Did your friend mention any trips oversea? Is the person claiming to be your friend unable to answer questions that only your friend would know? Is this person unwilling to provide a number where you can reach him or her? Are there inconsistencies in his or her story?
What to Do:
Confirm that you are actually communicating with your friend before sending any money. It’s unlikely that your friend would have internet access, but would be unable to reach you by phone. Also, try reaching your friend by his or her number. If you can reach your friend via phone, you could immediately uncover the scam and avoid becoming a victim.
Run the story by mutual friends to see it any elements of it pan out. If you can confirm with a friend or family member of the friend in question that he or she isn’t abroad or isn’t in any danger, then you can be sure that the person you’ve been chatting with is a scammer.
If you’ve found out that you’re friend’s account has been hacked and is now being used by a scammer, follow the “Help” link on Facebook’s website and use the “Report Abuse or Policy Violations” options to report the scam.