Out of all the social media platforms, Facebook is the most popular … which also makes it a scammer hotspot! While Facebook knows that scammers exist and wants them to be removed from the site – just as much as you do – scammers try and outsmart Facebook to reign supreme! Learn the tricks that Facebook Scammers use and stay safe from romance scammers, lottery scammers, loan scammers, access token scams and theft, job scammers, and more!
Just how popular is Facebook?: As recently as April 2020 there were 2.498 billion active users on Facebook. To break this down further, this means that 2 out of 3 social media users are also active on Facebook. The social media app giant also owns and created Instagram. Facebook’s origins began in 2003 when college student Mark Zuckerberg started “Facemash”. The platform was used to compare student’s photos and rank who was “hotter” at Harvard. The platforms eventually evolved from a photo-ranking, college student-only platform to the social media success story it is today!
Facebook Scams to Watch Out For!
These are the most common scams found on Facebook, how they work, and what Facebook warns its users!
1. Romance Scams: Is someone in love with you or just a scammer? While romance scammers used to also catfish their victims through fake photos and identities, some now try and connect using their real-life photos. That way, they can “woo” you with words of love and devotion, “prove” their identity by video chatting, and still try to steal your cash through a temporary loan.
Facebook warns: Romance scammers will, “engage in online relationships in hopes of receiving money for flights or visas. Their goal is to gain your trust, so the conversations may continue for weeks before they ask for money.”
What to Watch Out For: Don’t share your personal email address or personal information with anyone you don’t know in person. This could lead to identity theft and the romance scammer draining your bank account. Also, treat every money request as a potential, even likely, scam.
2. Lottery Scams: It feels good to win and lottery scams rely on that enthusiasm. For lottery scams, you will receive a phishing message that you are a lucky winner. The only catch? To receive your lottery winnings you must pay a small advance fee. Those who are scammed talk themselves into paying the fee, as they rationalize that it is meager compared to the winnings they’ll receive. The fee might be called a “tax” to make it seem believable.
Facebook warns: “Lottery scams are often carried out from accounts or Pages impersonating someone you know or an organization (such as a government agency or Facebook). The scammer may ask you to provide personal information, such as your physical address or bank details.”
What to Watch Out For: Think of any fees you pay (to ‘supposedly’ receive lottery winnings) as part of an advanced fee scam.
3. Loan Scams: Need a loan? If you are looking for a loan, a scammer will pretend that they are part of a reputable organization that is ready to provide one. The drawback? They actually want your cash and gift cards!
Facebook warns: “Loan scammers send messages and leave posts offering instant loans at a low-interest rate for a small advance fee.”
What to Watch Out For: If you need to pay for it upfront, it’s not a loan… it’s a scam! Search Social Catfish to verify the identity and the name of any loaners.
4. Access Token Theft: You receive a link to a fake website and click on it for whatever is being offered or the app. You even grant access to your Facebook account, as the offer looks legitimate. However, this may actually be a way for a scammer (or spammer) to gain access to your information!
Facebook warns: “The link may look like it came from a legitimate app, but instead it is a way that spammers can gain access to your account and spread spam.”
What to Watch Out For: Be cautious about who you grant account access to, even if it’s an app!
5. Job Scams: When you’re looking for work it is good to explore all options, but being scammed shouldn’t be part of the equation. Job scams include fake job postings that either lie or mislead you into giving away your information (SSN, DL, bank information) or money (it may also be combined with an advance fee scam).
Facebook warns: “When clicking on a link from a job posting, watch out for websites that seem unrelated to the original job posting or that ask for sensitive information (example: government ID)
but that don’t use secure (HTTPS) browsing.”
What to Watch Out For: You should be able to fact check legitimate jobs through a search engine. Real jobs will never ask for money upfront or request your social security number before you are sure the job is legitimate.
How to Avoid These Facebook Scams
Even as scammers try every trick in the book, the public is becoming more aware and more prone to taking action. This is what you should do when you encounter a Facebook scammer.
1. Get Help: Facebook calls out scammers by type. Take advantage of Facebook’s user features to block other users and report scammers directly to Facebook. Facebook will take the profiles down and you will singlehandedly help protect others from being scammed. To report posts on Facebook, click here.
Warning: The scammer may create a new profile and identity. Beware of new friend requests!
2. Report to the Government: The IC3 is a division of the FBI that specifically takes reports of internet scams. Save any information where you were financially scammed and report all the details here.
3. File A Police Report: If you feel in fear for your life or have lost a significant amount of money to a scammer, be sure to file a police report through your local police station. Provide the police with your account of the events, submit any documentation, and ask for a police report and not only police notes. You can also request a credit freeze, particularly if you feel that your social security number or credit information has been compromised.
Take a moment to consider the people that you are currently interacting with on Facebook. Has anyone asked you for money or have you become accustomed to ignoring their suspicious actions? Romance scammers may begin their con days, weeks, or months before they ask for money.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
You can fact-check the name, email address, phone number, username, or photograph of anyone you meet online! Social Catfish changes the way you think about scammers. We use a proprietary algorithm to catch and expose spammers, catfish, scammers, and fraudsters on a daily basis. Search for your online acquaintances before you trust them and fall victim to Facebook scams!