It’s no secret that social media platforms are a hotbed for scams.
Not so long ago Facebook was a coding project in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room. Today it generates billions in revenue through the data harvesting that goes on behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, Facebook is also a place where fraudsters exploit victims through a variety of frauds.
To help you fight back, I will discuss how scammers operate, detailing some of the current scams, and I also dig deeper by replying to a suspected bogus job advert.
Scam artists take advantage of the trust you bestow on others. This could be in relation to your friends, popular brands, celebrities, or even Facebook groups.
One such fraud involved Money Saving Expert’s, Martin Lewis, who has massive credibility when it comes to helping people with their finances. Scammers exploited this by pretending to be Martin in Facebook ads promoting Bitcoin trading schemes.
According to Martin, for over a year, scammers published thousands of fake ads bearing his image. When he complained to Facebook, they did nothing to stop the ads, and instead put the onus back on him by asking him to continue reporting the ads. With that in mind, you shouldn’t rely on Facebook to actively clamp down on scammers.
Be cautious of anyone, including friends, who contact you asking you to click on a link, or invest money in a get rich quick scheme. It’s always worth checking directly with the person or company involved.
Hijacking Accounts: You are sent a message from Facebook asking you to confirm your login details. Once done, the captured information is used to take over your account. The phishers pretend to be you and ask your contacts for money or information.
Update Video Player: Someone in your contacts sends you a video in Facebook Messenger. When you play it, an error message appears requesting you click the link to update your video/flash player. The link installs a virus which harvests information from your computer.
Financial Identity Theft: Fraudsters make use of personal information you post on Facebook. They look for answers to qualifying questions such as your mother’s maiden name, birthdays, first car, etc. This information is used to steal your identity, where bank accounts, credit cards, and loans are opened in your name.
Contest Scams: A fake Facebook page is set up to promote a prize. To enter the competition you need to enter your contact information or click a link. However, there is no prize and the intent was always to collect your information or install a virus.
Replying To A Suspected Scammer
I joined several Facebook groups that claim to help people make money online. Scrolling through my newsfeed I often saw posts like this:
This one claims to be recruiting for DHL. But reading it makes me suspicious because:
- It’s unlikely DHL would hire from a FB post
- Simple forms can be automated
- Being paid $1,700 a week for completing worksheets seems too good to be true
- Use of the words “no start up feee” (spelled incorrectly) & “no scams”
Further down the post, he instructs people who are interested to type “info” as a comment.
To find out more, I do so. Moments later he replies with a link to click.
I click the link and I’m taken to this page:
I’m thinking to myself, this has nothing to do with DHL.
But in the interest of investigating further, I click the new link.
It takes me to this page:
My research shows Global Test Market to be a legit company that pays people to complete surveys. Having said that, users complain that sometimes they are not credited for completing surveys, and nothing is done when the problem is raised.
Going back to the previous screen, it claimed that I could make $100 a day and also mentioned free traffic. But completing surveys doesn’t involve driving traffic, and even the most generous survey sites don’t pay anywhere near $100 a day. On top of which, there are other, more reputable survey providers out there.
That’s not all, on clicking the “Get Instant Access” link, I had this pop-up window trigger:
It claims to reveal marketing shortcuts for online business with no strings attached. Being skeptical from my previous experience, I somewhat reluctantly click the link.
And another pop up appears. This time I’m offered a cash-cow shortcut and could be holidaying by the end of the month if I click the link.
By now my bullshit detector is heavily in the red zone, but in the interest of investigating, I click once again.
Now I’m greeted with this page:
As I read I become aware of the psychological tricks used to build rapport, demonstrate empathy, deflecting, and break down my objections. It’s clear that whoever wrote this has knowledge of copywriting and a good grasp of English.
Here are more screenshots:
It ends with another link to click, and by now I’m getting bored of this constant link clicking that leads to nowhere.
My only thought is how untrustworthy all of these sites are. The false claims and inconsistencies don’t inspire any sort of confidence. And I find it hard to believe people sign up to these sites.
You can protect yourself by being skeptical about everything. The best advice is to consider whether an opportunity is too good to be true, and if that’s the case, you have the power not to click.