Facebook has been raked over the coals lately – and rightly so – for allowing third-party apps to trick users into sharing personal data via games and quizzes. The social networking giant recently vowed to clean things up after it admitted that nearly 90 million people had their data scraped by a political analytics firm during the 2016 election cycle.
With the air starting to clear a bit, it seems the hits just keep on coming for Facebook. A new report in the New York Times details how hackers are targeting unsuspecting users by using the likeness of none other than company CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself.
Facebook lottery scam preys on elderly
The scams, which especially focus on lottery winnings, work like this: You receive a message from Zuckerberg or another tech titan that says you’re due some money. As the Times reports, a Minnesota man got a notification that he was in line to get $750,000. Of course, for things to work out, all he had to do was fork over some money.
He ended up being defrauded out of more than $1,500, a big chunk of his Social Security check.
Facebook removed more than 200 accounts impersonating Zuckerberg after being alerted by the Times – but there are countless more on the site (and its sister app Instagram) masquerading as everyday people.
A Kentucky great-grandmother sent someone pretending to be her Facebook friend $350, according WATE TV. She was promised $150,000 from a lottery.
“United Parcel Service, UPS, was going to deliver it,” she told the TV station. “She said it would be delivered in a box and the drivers are getting ready to head out. And she said you need to send me $500 dollars. She said that is to pay the deliveryman.”
As much as Facebook has talked about how important privacy is, it seems the company is still enabling thousands of impostor accounts to interact and prey upon its most unsuspecting users: the elderly.
Research from the Pew Center shows that the number of senior citizens on Facebook has surged in recent years. A 2017 study says 34% of them are now on social media, a 7-point increase from 2013.
Money expert Clark Howard says Facebook users need to be extra-careful about who they interact with. Many people have been victimized by hoaxes. “We have had a number of calls from people who have lost money to scamsters impersonating family and friends,” Clark says.
Because criminals can seize on anything you share personally, you need to avoid posting about vacation itinerary, birthdays and other details that are best kept offline. Here are three social media tips to keep in mind.
Here are 3 ways to protect yourself from scammers on social media
- Check email warnings: Before you interact with an email purporting to be from Facebook, you can check its legitimacy at facebook.com/settings. And go to “See recent emails from Facebook.” Here’s how to do that.
- Report phishing accounts: If you ever receive a Facebook message from someone you’re suspicious about, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Don’t talk to strangers: If you don’t know them, there’s a reason for that. It’s a good idea not to befriend random users that reach out to you — those could very well be phony accounts looking to glean information from you.