Social Media Scams on Facebook Following Familiar Scenarios

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2016-05-17 Print this article Print
Facebook Scams

Another rumor involved something called the Chang Zuckerberg Initiative, in which random people on Facebook would receive money.

The scams that involve Facebook are many. There's one in which people are receiving bogus coupons from a grocery chain promising $75 off an $80 purchase. There's another where someone tries to pose as a friend and asks for money. There's also the fake relative scam, in which some long-lost relative is said to have left bunches of money and all you have to do is pay shipping.

If these scams sound familiar, you're right: They have been around for a very long time and far predate Facebook. What's happening here is that crooks are leveraging Facebook's popularity to reach more victims more quickly. In addition, they can collect personal details from an unguarded profile page to help their credibility. These are the same cons that have been around for decades on email—and some may be as old as the Roman Empire.

But the fact is, there is some impersonation happening on social media, and it's not uncommon for more than one person to have the same name. So before you go plumbing the innards of Facebook, it's a good idea to confirm that you're actually looking at the right person. And if there's any doubt, it's worth confirming the accuracy of what you're seeing.

I point this out with a couple of examples in mind: For one, it's now very common for prospective employers to check out an applicant's social media postings, but if anything adverse is found, it should be confirmed with the person whose name is on the account. You can't just assume that the Joe Smith who's looking for a job is the same Joe Smith you found on Facebook.

This also applies to people (me, for example) who are in the news media and who sometimes look at social media as part of our reporting. It might be interesting to see stories of Joe Smith being involved in something questionable, but only if it's the Joe Smith we think we're covering. The consequences for being wrong are very high, both in terms of the damage that can be done to someone's reputation and later when the lawyers start filing libel suits against your publication.

Here is the advice Facebook's spokesperson passed along for social media users to watch out for: "We encourage people to not accept suspicious requests and to report suspected phishing messages using the easy-to-find links across our service. More information is also available in our Help Center."

Facebook also provides additional advance and tools on how users can keep their accounts secure.

The Help Center provides links where people can report a suspicious profile and the steps someone can take if they believe someone is impersonating someone that they know.

Finally, a word of advice that needs to be repeated: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scams can only succeed if people accept them uncritically. This is true whether it's on Facebook, on the phone or in the mail. The scammers really are everywhere.


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