The Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission are warning the public about current FB Dating Group Scams, in which online criminals attempt to rob victims of their hard-earned money.
This article takes a look at the latest Facebook scams, how they work, and the top warning signs so you can avoid falling victim. We’ve interviewed experts with the BBB and FTC to give you the most up-to-date information about these scams, and what to do if you have been a target.
The following information is designed to educate the public about the inner workings of these Facebook scams, with the ultimate goal to stop these online criminals from robbing innocent victims.
Facebook scams fall into two general categories: scammers pretending to be individuals by creating fake profiles, and scammers creating fake ads that link to scam websites, according to Katherine R. Hutt, national spokesperson for the BBB.
FB Dating Group Scams & Scammers use many different platforms including social media to reach consumers, noted Patti Poss, a senior attorney with the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices.
“We have seen reports of scammers using social media platforms to access information about consumers that is made public through social media, such as photos and other personal information, and use it for various schemes,” Poss said. “Scammers have also gained access to social media accounts, and then impersonated the user and perpetuated schemes that appear to come from a known friend.”
With a fake profile scam, the scammer steals the name and photos of an existing person and “Friends” the real person’s friends in order to communicate with them in some way, usually to perpetrate a family or friend emergency scam.
Emergency scams prey on your willingness to help friends and family in need. Scammers impersonate their targets’ loved ones, make up an urgent situation – and plead for help and money. Due to information provided on social media sites, scammers can offer plausible stories and incorporate nicknames and real travel plans into the con to convince their targets.
Emergency scams are about a family member or friend in a dire situation. You get a call, email, or social media message from someone claiming to be a family member in distress. They may say they’ve been arrested while traveling overseas, or there was an accident, medical emergency, or other calamity. They provide convincing details, such as family names and school details.
“Facebook users should make sure their profile privacy settings are high so non-friends cannot see their photos,” Hutt advised.
Additionally, “they need to be careful about accepting friend requests – getting a friend request from someone you are already friends with is a big red flag,” Hutt warned. “If you get an emergency message from a friend, double check to make sure it’s from the real person and not a second, fake profile.”
FB Dating Group Scams or Fake ads can be for counterfeit goods, or can use to prompt you to buy something, Hutt noted. This scam can also attempt to lead you to share personally identifiable information that can be used for identity theft.
“Some fake ads link to sites that download malware to your computer,” Hutt warned. “Facebook has programs in place to try to stop both of these kinds of scams, but far too many criminals slip through the cracks and use Facebook as a way to reach their potential victims.”