Facebook Money and Romance Scams: An Intricate Web of Deceit

scamUsing Facebook as a means for communication is becoming more and more treacherous as scams running through the site have become more intricate and much harder to detect.

As with other Facebook scams, just the shear number of potential targets attracts these cyber criminals like a moth is drawn to a flame. It’s important to be aware of this fact and realize that just being on Facebook makes you a target.

Anytime you receive a request for money on Facebook or anywhere else online, warning bells should be going off on full alert! Here are a few popular scams to look out for that are specifically aiming for your wallet:

1) Advance Fee Scams – Facebook Lotteries or any message claiming you’ve won or entitled to a large sum of money. The ruse here is they require you to send them a processing fee or some other junk fee in order to receive your winnings. Does this make sense at all? If it were legitimate, why couldn’t they simply deduct these fees and send you the balance? People’s excitement and greed take over and victims of these scams defy reason and logic.

2) Romance Scams – This scam can be emotionally damaging and financially draining. Be cautious of any online relationship, especially if they ever ask for money. These scammers can be extremely patient and convincing. Isolated, lonely people are often targeted and can be especially susceptible to these scams. Keep your emotions in check and a tight grip on your money. Common romance scams include people impersonating soldiers claiming they need funds to take leave, help out a family member, etc. You’ll also see younger females targeting older men.

3) Blackmail / Extortion – These are similar to romance scams. These cyber criminals trick users into sending nude photos and/or videos, and then they threaten to publish them online for the victim’s friends and family to see. Scammers will also pretend that they have installed spyware on the victims computer and have obtained compromising photos or videos that way.

4) 419 Scams – Help I’m stranded in London and need money ASAP (or some other emergency). Facebook has been shown to actually increase the effectiveness of this scam. These crooks will often create fake profiles and try to infiltrate networks of people on Facebook. This allows them access to personal information that would be otherwise unknown  to them. When the time is right, they will target the friends and family members of the victim and plead their case.

Undoubtedly, there are countless other schemes and scams on Facebook. The creativity and deceptive tactics of Facebook scammers are always evolving and changing; however, there are a few common sense actions you and your friends can take to limit your risk and exposure to these scams:

  1. Don’t friend people you don’t know on Facebook. If you choose to do so anyway, assign these people to an acquaintance list and don’t let them into your inner circle.
  2. Don’t ever send money to anyone until you have verified the emergency. Contact the person claiming to be in trouble or another trusted friend or family member. Obviously, you will want to contact them outside of Facebook.  Don’t let the false sense of urgency spur you to action.
  3. Avoid too good to be true offers. What are the chances of you being randomly contacted for winning a Facebook Lottery or any other similar scheme. If you think something is legitimate, then do a Google search, send us a Facebook message or ask a trusted friend their opinion on the matter. People have literally lost thousands of dollars due to scams of this nature.

The only thing we can really do to protect ourselves is to match the scammers’ determination with vigilance and education about these scams and a healthy amount of suspicion towards anyone asking for money.

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