The definition of the term “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE is trying to get your wife or kids to delete their Facebook account; you will be lucky to get them to quit for just one day. It is almost an obsessive compulsive disorder; an addiction almost as strong as cocaine or Shabu. Unfortunately, for many, it is also almost as dangerous. One woman lost $32,000 to a Facebook scam. They caught the crook but the victim still lost her money.
There are several scams but the most common is the crook copies your name, profile picture and other available photos. They then block you and send a “friend requests” to everyone on your friends list. This is done to infiltrate their social network. Once this is accomplished, they have a variety of scam options at their disposal.
DATA MINING: Collect information from the accounts they have friended under their bogus profile. Even if you have your privacy and sharing options set to “Friends Only”, you and your friends are still at risk. As an exmilitary intelligence officer I can assure you, your Facebook pages have enough data them to make you very VERY vulnerable, both financially and emotionally.
GRANDMA SCAM The scammer contacts all the people linked to your site pretending to be you. He then claims to be in some sort of trouble and needs their help. Typically he will claim to be stranded while on vacation or arrested by police. He then requests they send money, which you promise to pay back as soon as you get back from your trip.
SPAM SCAM: Making a list of all your friends, the scammer either sells the list to spamming companies or simply sends them messages promoting diet pills, free gift cards or some other product they are selling.
BULLIES: These sick people attempt to destroy your relationship with all your contacts. They post nasty comments or vulgar pictures under your name then sit back and watch the chaos and hate they create.
SWEETHEART CON: They mine you or your friends Facebook posts for information. After compiling a list of information on everything from your favorite food to your favorite hobbies and activities, they contact you pretending to be a new friend. They use this information to become your “dream lover”. They seem to be the other half of your heart. The person you have searched for all of your life. Eventually they end up ripping up your heart and your bank account. Two ugly women in Colorado pretending to be lonely soldiers in Afghanistan, stole over 32 million dollars before they were caught.
TARGETING: Pictures of your home and possessions can make you a target for burglars and robbers. You may think no one can find out where you live but there are several ways this can be done. Posting information about your social calendar can give the burglars a time table when you are most vulnerable. Impressing your friends can lead to being a victim.
What can we do? Here are few things you can do:
* Think about what you post. Ask yourself how could this be used to hurt me or my family?
* Be careful who you allow to join your friends list. Never befriend anyone who is already on your list.
* If you suspect something is wrong contact the party using a different mode (phone, email etc). If it turns out to be a scam, report it to authorities.
* Download only from sites you know to be safe. Because it came from a “friend” does not mean it is safe. Get a good virus / malware protective program.
* Pictures you post become “public property”. Do not post anything you do not want to see somewhere else.
* Set your privacy and sharing options so only real friends can view them.
FINALLY Edit your friends list to your “real” friends. That nice couple you never met, from Los Angeles, may NOT be who you think they are.