Scam of the day – October 21, 2017 – Free iPhone X scam

There is a lot of excitement about the new iPhone X phone which will be available starting November 3rd. As always, however, whenever the public is enthusiastic about something, so are the scam artists who are ready to exploit the public’s interest.  A scam is appearing on Facebook where you are asked to “like” a promotion found on your Facebook page where merely by completing a survey and sharing a link with your friends, you will receive a free iPhone X.  Of course, you are not going to get a free iPhone X in exchange for merely completing a survey and sharing a link with your friends.  What you are going to get, when you complete this particular survey, which requires you to provide your cell phone number, is a cramming charge on your cell phone bill for a text messaging service for which you have unwittingly signed up.  As for your friends, if they click on the link that you have enabled them to receive, they will end up being defrauded as well.

TIPS

The old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true” still stands.  No one is giving away free iPhones to everyone who merely completes a survey.  Legitimate companies do ask their customers to complete surveys and sometimes they will even provide an inducement for completing the survey, but generally, your reward is to be enrolled in a lottery for a particular prize.  Everyone who completes the survey does not get a valuable prize.  On the other hand, scammers are constantly sending out surveys that either, within the fine print, sign you up for an expensive services that is often added to your phone bill through a scam called “cramming” or they take the personal information you provide and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  As difficult as it sometimes may be, everyone should carefully examine their phone bill each month to make sure that no fraudulent cramming charges are included on the bill.  If you find one or more, you should contact your phone service provider and instruct them to have the charges removed.  Also, be wary of providing personal information to anyone even if they seem legitimate.  Think about whether that information that you are asked to provide could be used against your best interests.

Scam of the day – July 16, 2017 – Don’t worry about Jayden K Smith

Despite what well meaning friends are telling you, accepting a friend request from Jayden K. Smith will not cause your Facebook account to be hacked.  Neither will accepting a friend request from Anwar Jitou, Tanner Dwyer, Bobby Roberts or other fictional hackers about whom this scam has been warning people in various incarnations for years.  Merely accepting a friend request does not put you in imminent danger of being hacked.  However, now that I have told you not to worry about Jayden K. Smith, I will tell you why you shouldn’t accept a friend request from him.

TIPS

Accepting friend requests from people you don’t know permits these people to see what you post on Facebook, which can provide someone who does not have your best interests at heart with information he or she could use to make you or a family member or friend of yours a victim of identity theft or a scam.  Using personal information gleaned from your Facebook postings, a cybercriminal can create a phishing email with a link containing malware that you may be more likely to click on because the email or text message may seem legitimate because it knows things about you or your interests.  In addition, scams such as the grandparent scam have been aided by grandchildren posting pictures of their grandparents with the names they use to refer to them, such as Grandma or Nana. Armed with this information, your name and perhaps photos indicating you are away on vacation, a cybercriminal can stand a good chance of making your grandparent a victim of the infamous grandparent scam where they pose as you on the phone and lure your grandparents into sending money for a phony emergency.

Scam of the day – July 11, 2017 – Another Delta Airlines Facebook scam

It was just eight days ago that I warned you about a scam involving Delta Airlines’ Skymiles program where people were being tricked into providing personal information about their Skymile accounts that is then used for purposes of identity theft.

Now a new scam involving Delta Airlines is appearing on Facebook in which you are told that Delta is giving away free airline tickets to celebrate its 88th birthday.  However this is a scam.  The Facebook posting asks you to like and share the post as well as complete a survey in order to get your tickets.  However, there are no free tickets and if you complete the survey, you turn over information to a scammer who can use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

Here is a reproduction of what appears on your Facebook page.

TIPS

A good starting point for recognizing that this is a scam is the fact that Delta Airlines is 93 years old so it is a bit late to be celebrating its 88th birthday.  It is also important to know that Delta only makes legitimate offers on its own official websites.

These types of scams entice people to share and like the posting in order to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms that value the popularity of postings measured by likes and shares which then appear on the Facebook pages of more people.  Scammers are able to change the content of what is shared or liked to something entirely different through a technique called “farming.”  This is often done in order to send advertising or gather marketing information, but it also can be done to send malware infected content that can steal personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

When you see one of these “too good to be true” offers, the best course of action is to check with the company’s legitimate website where you will learn whether or not the offer is indeed legitimate.

Scam of the day – July 3, 2017 – Delta Airlines Facebook scam

For years I have been reporting to you about numerous scams involving airline tickets.  Delta Airlines is  now reporting a scam where the targeting victim of the scam receives a a Facebook request purporting to be from Delta asking for SkyMiles numbers and other personal information.  This information is used by the scammer for purposes of identity theft.

TIPS

Neither Delta nor any of the other airlines will contact you through Facebook and ask for personal information or account information.  Delta and the other airlines will only ask for your account information if you go to their secure website or if you contact them in order to verify your identity.

Scam of the day – May 5, 2017 – 10 Concerts I’ve been to Facebook scam

Facebook is very popular with the general public and anything popular with the general public becomes a popular platform for scammers.  I have written about many Facebook scams over the years, but the latest one is particularly dangerous because it appears so innocuous.  It comes up on your Facebook page under the headline “10 Concerts, but there is one act that I haven’t seen live.  Which is it?”  While this may appear harmless, the information you provide may tell more about you than the person who appears to be posting it.  It may provide information about your approximate age and preferences in music which can then be used by a scammer to send you a phishing email tailored to appeal to your particular interests that you may trust and click on a link contained in the email that contains either keystroke logging malware that can be used to steal your identity or ransomware.

TIPS

We all tend to put too much personal information on social media that can be exploited by scammers and identity thieves to our detriment.  However, if you, as many people do, find this game and other similar games to be fun to play, you may want to just adjust your privacy setting to “friends only” so that you limit who gets to see your answers.

Scam of the day – April 30, 2017 – Facebook Mother’s Day coupon scam

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and scammers are taking advantage of this with phony $50 Lowe’s coupons that are turning up on Facebook pages luring people with the promise of the free coupon into providing information to a phony survey where the only goal is to gather personal information that will be used by the scammers for purposes of identity theft. Here is a copy of the coupon as it is appearing on Facebook.

lowes coupon scam Lowes $50 Mothers Day Coupon Is A Scam

While this particular scam uses a free $50 coupon from Lowe’s as the basis of the scam, similar scams have used phony coupons for Home Depot, Target, Ikea and others.

TIPS

No company could cover the cost of giving away vast numbers of $50 coupons although sometimes participants in legitimate surveys are promised a chance to win a coupon in a drawing.  Facebook is a favorite venue for scammers to use for this type of scam because often unwary victims will unwittingly share the scam with their friends.  If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a coupon, the best place to go is to the company’s website to see what real coupons are being offered.

Scam of the day – December 12, 2016 – Secret Sister gift exchange scam

It seems harmless enough when you see it come up on your Facebook page.  It is often titled the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” and it provides you with a list of six people.  You are told to send a gift worth at least ten dollars to the first person on the list, remove that person’s name from the list, move the second person on the list to the first position, add your name to the end of the list and then send the list to six of your friends.  In theory, you will receive thirty-six gifts for your small contribution of ten dollars.

So where is the harm?

First of all, it is a blatantly illegal chain letter and violates Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1302.  In addition, like all chain letters, ultimately, it is destined to fail because it is a pyramid scheme where ultimately we run out of people on the planet.  It is destined to fail.

In this particular version of the illegal chain letter, you are required to provide personal information that can lead you to become more vulnerable to scams. This scam has been with us for a couple of years and resurfaces during the holidays.

TIPS

Avoid all chain letters regardless of the guise under which you receive them.  They are illegal.  In addition, although this particular chain letter is turning up on Facebook pages, it is a violation of your Facebook terms of agreement, so you potentially face the loss of your Facebook account if you participate in the scheme.

Scam of the day – August 8, 2016 – Yet another Facebook scam

During the years that I have been writing Scamicide I have written many times about various Facebook scams.  The reason for this is that with more than a billion users, Facebook is obviously popular and anything popular with that many people will be sought after as a vehicle for scammers to scam people.  Recently, I wrote about the dangers of Facebook cloning when a new Facebook account is set up using your name and information in an effort to lure people into trusting messages and links that will appear to be sent by you.  But Facebook accounts are relatively easy to hack as well with the same goal of using your name to lure someone who trusts you into becoming a victim of a scam.

I urge Scamicide readers to contact me with scams they encounter so we can share these with everyone.  Recently I was contacted by Erica Kenney who was Facebook chatting with someone that she thought was her aunt after her aunt contacted her on Facebook to wish Erica a happy birthday.  The conversation evolved into Erica’s “aunt” informing  Erica that she had just won $100,00 from the Hugh Trust Foundation and that she saw Erica’s name on the list of winners too. All Erica had to do was contact the people her aunt referred her to in order to get her prize.  Of course, if Erica had followed up on the scam, she would have either clicked on a link and downloaded keystroke logging malware that would steal her personal information from her computer and use it to make her a victim of identity theft or be tricked into providing personal information directly when she went to the website to claim her prize.  Once again, there would be no prize except the booby prize of having your identity stolen due to providing the information to the scammer.

Fortunately, Erica was too smart to fall for this scam.

TIPS

A strong password and security question can help increase your security on Facebook.  Unfortunately, however, a very simple flaw in Facebook procedures allows a hacker to get access to your account and the ability to change your password after the hacker is unable to answer your security question merely by having the hacker provide three “friends” with Facebook accounts to whom Facebook will send security codes that the hacker can use to gain access to your account and change your password.  The hacker, of course, has already set up Facebook accounts for three phony “friends” to whom Facebook will send the security codes which can be used to hack your account.  Other times, the personal information that is readily available about people on line is sufficient to answer the security question.  Regardless of how the account is hacked into, the result can bring an increased risk of identity theft to your real friends who may trust a message from you that contains a link with dangerous keystroke logging malware that can result in your real friend’s computer being infiltrated and all of the information on it stolen such as Social Security number, account passwords and credit card numbers that can result in identity theft.

Be careful what personal information you put on Facebook.  Always consider how that information can be used against you to make you a victim of identity theft.  When setting up a security question, pick an answer that is nonsensical to protect it from hackers, such as “Where did I go to High School?” with an answer of “blue.”  Finally and most importantly, never, and  I mean never, click on links in messages that you receive unless you are absolutely sure that they are legitimate.  Merely because a message appears to be from a friend does not mean that the friend actually sent it.  His or her account may have been hacked or they may even be passing on tainted material without knowing it.  Never click on a link until you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate.  Call your friend to confirm that the message was from them and confirm from where they got the link they are sending to make sure that it is legitimate.  It may seem paranoid, but even paranoids have enemies.

 

Scam of the day – February 8, 2016 – The dangers of Facebook farming

We have all seen Facebook postings urging us to click that we “like”them.  Sometimes it is an emotional appeal to show support for a sick child.  Sometimes it is to show support for a political message. Sometimes these appeals are legitimate, but unfortunately sometimes they are not.  Often they are done to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms that value the popularity measured by likes and shares which then appear on the Facebook pages of more people.  Although the original content liked or shared may appear sincere or entertaining, the scammers who use this technique, which is called “farming,” then are able to change the content to something entirely different from what was originally shared or liked.  This can be done for purposes of sending advertising or gathering marketing information, but, at its worst, it can be used to send malware infected content that can steal personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

So what should you do?  Posts that promise some sort of prize for sharing or liking are most likely scams. As for the other scams, you may wish to be a bit skeptical before automatically sharing or liking a post. You may wish to even do a little research yourself to find out if the posting is legitimate.    A 2007 photo of a seven year old Pennsylvania girl with Stage IV cancer posing in her cheerleading uniform has been used numerous times for Facebook farming.  Today that girl is a cancer free teenager whose family is understandably outraged that their daughter’s photograph has been abused by scammers through Facebook farming.

Scam of the day – September 26, 2015 – Employment recruiter scams

Searching for a job is much easier today with all of the resources of the Internet, however, unfortunately, it is also easier for scammers to search for victims posing as employment recruiters using the resources of the Internet.  The phony recruiters often reach out to people on social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  Many people provide personal information to these scammers who then use that information to make the job seeker a victim of identity theft.  Often the scammers will copy the logo of legitimate companies so that their emails may look legitimate.

TIPS

As I always say, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  You can never be sure when you receive an email, text message or communication by way of social media who is really contacting you.  For this reason, you should never provide personal information to a recruiter unless you have absolutely confirmed they are legitimate.  You can do this by contacting the HR department of the real company they may only be pretending to represent.   Real job postings can also be found on the websites of legitimate companies so if someone claims to be recruiting for a company that does not list such a job as being offered by the company on its website, you can expect that the recruiter is a scammer or identity thief.