Facebook is an unprecedented tool for connecting people around the world. However, that also makes it a target for cybercriminals. And one of the very worst kinds of social media scam is when these crooks take advantage of users’ charity and goodwill. According to a new report in WIRED, nonprofit groups are often an easy mark for hackers.
In one case, the director of a nonprofit animal shelter noticed that the Facebook page for her group, which had 1.3 million followers, began posting strange content. She thought nothing of it, and deleted the posts as they arrived. It wasn’t until a link to a fraudulent GoFundMe fundraiser appeared on the page that she realized the account had been compromised. When the group’s director tried to warn the page’s followers that they were being scammed, the hacker threatened via DM to delete the page forever.
Facebook did eventually wrest control of the page away from the hacker, but that wasn’t the end of it. The hacker proceeded to create fake accounts harassing various employees at the shelter, and even their friends and family, until the nonprofit director wired the hacker the amount of money he or she had taken via the fraudulent fundraiser.
Experts say that nonprofits are particularly susceptible to hackers because they don’t typically employ an individual dedicated to cybersecurity. However, most phishing attacks can be avoided simply by following common-sense precautions. And Facebook needs to hold up its end of the bargain by doing a better job of detecting these scammers before they ever strike.