Since its launch seven years ago, Facebook has seen its fan base grow to an astounding 500 million active users worldwide. While the social network powerhouse is not without controversy and legal battles, its popularity hasn't suffered at all, leaving corporations to embrace the 'friends' empire. But is it really a friendly place? Scammers sure hope so.
These days, befriending the popular social network does not come without a price. As Facebook's fan base increases, so have the exploits of cyber criminals who see the social network and its friendly fans as a gold mine. Marketing on social networks is a hot trend in large due to its vast fan base and diverse community. Where else can you target so many people of varying backgrounds and ages with just one single post? As more and more members invite strangers who they blanket as 'friends' into their private world, in creeps deception and another victim is born.
The problem with social networks like Facebook is its foundation was built on trust and common sense. Sadly, the latter is rarely used. Scammers are well aware of this and hope to profit off of members' lack of sensibility and need to 'friend.'
Are You the Next Target of a Facebook Scam?
Would you click on any of the below if sent by a Facebook friend? Well, let's see how friendly you really are.
"Your friend sends you a link of an artist they like. You like them, too. Do you click 'like'?"
Scammers are enjoying Facebook's new 'LIKE' feature and have hidden the functionality within a webpage, so that when the victim clicks on it, they are under the impression that their action will do something entirely different than what the hidden script is programmed to do - scam them. Unwary Facebook users 'like' or click malicious websites and spread it to all of their Facebook friends and contacts when it posts on their wall.
Advice: Be wary and less finger-trigger happy. No need to tell the whole world what you like. If you think about it, Facebook's 'like' is a marketing tool for advertisers. The last I checked, advertisers pay Facebook the big bucks and not you.
"OMG i cried when i saw this …"
Traditional media has enjoyed the fascination that humans have with sensationalism. Tell people how someone survived and you might get a few clicks or reads, but tell them how they almost died and you'll get twice as many if not more clicks or reads. Tragedy sells news and scammers are hoping to cash in on your inherent curiosity.
Advice: If curiosity killed the cat, it could also kill your bank account and credit. If you are that interested, buy a newspaper.
- Free Stuff
"OMG, I know I shouldn't talk about this here in Facebook, but I thought I would message you from my new Apple iPad that I just got for free..."
Want to get someone's attention, just add the words 'free' and it works every time. Who doesn't want the latest gadget, and for free? The reality is this type of offer is too good to be true. Survey scams, also known as phishing scams, are sweeping the Internet and are promising everything and giving its victims nothing but grief. Once you click on the link, you might be asked to give permission to access your account and complete the survey. Scammers get paid for the survey and also benefit from accessing your account, so they can victimize more users and reap more pay. You, the victim, get … nothing.
Advice: Didn't your parents teach you that nothing in life is free? Well, I hate to admit it, but they were right.
"haha wow, have you seen this pic you were tagged in yet? LOL"
Scammers know that humans are inherently fascinated about themselves, so why not make the message all about 'YOU?'
Advice: Do not be fooled. Unfortunately, the world doesn't evolve around you, so not every message is truly about you. This message is about the scammer who wants to cheat you out of your money and credit. Do not let it happen. Verify the source before clicking the link.
- IQ Quiz Ads
"IQ Test: This quiz will test your intelligence."
Are you curious to see how smart you are? Apparently, you are not alone. Facebook users are first ask to allow IQ Test to access their account information, and then are given 10 easy questions. Users must provide their mobile number to get the surprising results texted to them. What victims get instead is a $44 monthly text servicing charge.
Advice: Act smart and never give your personal information out blindly. Usually there is a scammer on the other end of the offer.
Don't feel embarrassed if you answered yes to one, two or all of them. Scammers study human behavior, a technique known as social engineering, so they can model human interaction in their rogue messages. All it takes is foiling one 'friend' to use as bait to lure or trick 'more friends', which is the connect-and-share model of Facebook.
Scamming is big business, so it is not going away too soon. Cyber criminals are hoping to cash in on your lack of sensibility, so it is important you use caution and common sense before clicking on any link or opening a file attachment, even if from a trusted friend. It is possible your friend's account has been compromised, and the message you are seeing is masked in deception. If unsure, pick up the phone or use another safe online method to verify its authenticity.
Another slick and bold technique scammers are doing, is impersonating legitimate sources and their trusted interfaces. If you receive a Facebook message that asks you to 'click' and download an update or provide personal information, do not do it! It could be an imposter waiting to scam you. If ever unsure that the site is valid, i.e. a real Facebook message, alert or offer, exit the page and type in the URL directly into the browser.
If you have been a victim of a scam type not mentioned above, please share with us, so our readers can stay on their toes and not become scammer's next victim.