Much has been written about scams on Facebook, including an FAQ released by Facebook themselves, called "How do I avoid scams on Facebook?" A summary of those tips and how they work are as follows;
- Romance scams
- Lottery scams
- Loan scams
- Access Token Theft
- Job Scams
Yet those tips are, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, I'm going to go into a little detail about a couple of other frequent scams that from what I've observed over the past few months, are growing in number and that many people still don't know about or aware of.
It's often easy to be fooled when you see a post from a legitimate-looking company picture when it appears in your Facebook news feed, but there are always several giveaways. It's often to do with saving oodles of cash on a purchase or making a ton of money with little to no effort at all -- Such scams target both struggling folks who may be out of work as well as those that may be a little greedy and looking to cash in on big profits for doing practically nothing.
An excellent example I tried to publically warn folks about in comments (that I can't link to now because Facebook took the ad down after I reported it as a scam) went as follows;
Buy some BitCoin currency as well as the advertisers "unique wonder software" which was "guaranteed" to double or triple your money in under a month, and then cash out and get your bank to convert your bitcoins into cold hard cash. (Never mind that no bank will convert Bitcoins to Cash - most people don't know that)
They even used stolen photos of celebrities from "The Shark Tank" television show stating fake quotes about how the sharks had tried the system and had made thousands from using it in no time.
The post and story were clearly fake to me, but sadly, several people reported in comments that they fell for the offer in a similar previous scam and lost hundreds of dollars as a result. The warning signs I immediately noticed were as follows;
1. The post was "Sponsored" - any post in your feed marked this way is an ad. It looks something similar to the following.
The above "Sponsored" word tells you it's an advertisement and not a general post or media news story. In other words, Facebook was paid to inject the post into their subscribers news feeds.
2. Take note of grammar used in such ads and any external page(s) they may link to. Any advertiser or marketing company worth their salt will proofread their work to ensure grammar, spelling etc. in the post and linked web page is correct.
3. You've probably all heard this before, but it's worth restating. "If it sounds too good to be true, then rest assured it probably is."
There are very few free lunches in this world, so don't expect anything of true value to be given away for free. Consider that if an ad is claiming to make you bundles of money for little to no effort, then why would anyone advertise and charge for it? Why not just sit back, use it themselves and make the thousands or millions they're claiming you can make themselves? That's just plain logic and common sense.
4. Finally, be wary when wealthy or well-known celebrities are used in stories to promote ads toting easy cash making schemes. 99.9% of the time these will be a result of stolen photos of the celebrities and fake quotes.
Hacked and/or fake Facebook accounts
Despite assurances by Facebook about how confidential your data is kept, the fact of the matter is that Facebook accounts are frequently hacked and taken over on a daily basis.
Fake accounts exist in abundance and they can be often hard to spot. Hackers can easily create look-a-like Facebook profiles by stealing graphics from genuine sites and reproducing their look so well, that only a very trained eye will spot the difference between the real account and the faked one. Once that's done, a hacker goes about learning as much about you as possible.
Or you may have even accepted a hacker as a friend in order to grow you friend count and follower numbers, or during a moment of distraction, click on the "Accept" button to a friend request that came out of the blue.
Once these lowlifes have a little bit of info about you and they've read your interactions for a time, they select a real friend of yours and subsequently create a fake Facebook account in your real friend's name. They may even interact with you for a short time with harmless comments and messages to gain your trust.
Give it a few weeks, or a month or two, and you might suddenly get a message from your friend that they went on a short trip somewhere and ran into a bit of bad luck. They'll give you some sob story about how they've lost all their belongings, including their mobile phone and are writing to you via an Internet cafe.
So could you *please* send them a few hundred dollars in cash to help them out of their jam, promising you the world of gratitude if you could just do that small favour for them. The request will almost always be to send them some emergency cash via the Western Union or Moneygram services. Fall for this scam and you can say goodbye to your hard-earned money forever. It is virtually impossible to recover any funds sent via those two means as they are treated as cash transfers. Neither company (Western Union or Moneygram) will do anything to help you or the police.
You can protect yourself from this type of scam by taking other measures to make sure the person sending you the Private Messages is, in fact, the person you think it is, whether that be your son, daughter, another relative of just an old friend. Ring their home or mobile and see if they answer. Ring others that know them and ask if they've heard of them going on some type of trip. Don't let your heart rule your head and verify the facts first. You get the idea.
Other types of Facebook scams
I could easily write a lot more about the countless scams and tricks that float around on Facebook and other social media sites on a daily basis, but the point of this article was to try and spread the word about the scams I've covered above. Do some research or send me some feedback if you would like an article detailing how other specific scams work and how you can protect yourself from falling victim to them.
A few basic ways to protect yourself
Do you have any stories of your own where you've noticed or found out about a scam on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platform? Please share them with us in the comments section below. I'd love to hear about your experiences.
Finally, If you need "Support" about this topic, please consider using the Ask a Question feature of Experts Exchange. I monitor questions asked and would be pleased to provide any additional support required in questions asked in that manner, along with other EE experts...
Please do not forget to press the "Thumb's Up" button if you think this article was helpful and valuable for EE members.
It also provides me with positive feedback. Thank you!
Have a question about something in this article? You can receive help directly from the article author. Sign up for a free trial to get started.