Michelle Lawson, a single mother who works as a hair stylist in Tennessee, recently received an intriguing message from a friend on Facebook. Her friend Karen told her about a treasury grant program that awarded college scholarship money to incoming students, and as a struggling mom looking to put her son through college, Michelle was interested. However, the dollar figure of the alleged scholarship raised some red flags for Lawson: $250,000.
Of course, there was also a catch to receive the money. Lawson would have to pay a $450 delivery fee. Lawson messaged her friend Karen twice to make sure the scheme was legit, and Karen assured her that it was. Karen said that she too had been skeptical, but she paid her delivery fee and received all of her money. So Michelle sent her $450, and soon received a “certificate of delivery.” However, the treasury group soon asked her for an additional $2,500, and Michelle realized what was actually happening: she had fallen victim to a scam.
How did it work? The cybercriminals cloned Michelle’s friend’s Facebook profile and used it to assuage Michelle’s fears and convince her to invest. This kind of scam is particularly insidious because it takes advantage of the natural trust we all have in our friends and loved ones; if it was truly a scam, why would it be coming from your friend? As always, be careful when you hear about offers on Facebook that seem too good to be true—no matter who sends you them.