SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — High-tech crooks are moving beyond traditional social media scams like creating fake profiles with a friend’s name, turning to a multi-pronged approach that may catch some by surprise.
The social media swindle that targeted Michael Duane Hansen began with a typical angle: a Facebook friend request allegedly from an old high school “friend.”
The friend asked if Hansen had collected his $70,000 in stimulus money yet. The so-called friend claimed he got money and said he saw Hansen’s name on the list too.
Hansen was suspicious, but texted the number his friend suggested. He was then told he’d have to send $850 to get his $70,000 government check.
“That was a red flag,” said Hansen.
But that was just the first part of a multi-layered attack. Next Hansen’s phone rang.
The caller had an accent and claimed to be from Facebook. He said he could help Hansen avoid the $850 fee, if he would only give him remote access to his computer.
It was another clear sign of a scam. Hansen refused.
“He said I would lose the money. And I said, ‘Then I guess I’m broke,'” said Hansen.
The Better Business Bureau says most people know by now scammers are cloning Facebook pages and stealing people’s photos before targeting that person’s Facebook family and friends list.
They say it is forcing crooks to get creative, hitting targets from several directions.
“They’re just getting desperate,” said Danielle Spang with the Better Business Bureau. “You should never pay money to receive money.”
Spang warns you should never give a stranger remote access to your computer, which can enable crooks use to hold it hostage or worse.
Hansen was happy he didn’t fall for the multi-pronged attack and wanted to warn others so they won’t fall for it either.
“I think they’re horrible,” said Hansen.
It’s one thing to avoid being scammed. It is another to prevent people from using you profile to scam other people.
To help protect yourself, you can change your privacy setting to “friends only” which will help prevent stranger from cloning your profile and targeting your family and friends.
But keep in mind, your primary profile photo is public and searchable, so choose it wisely.