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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Facebook scams and all that glitters is not gold

A cautionary tale of how not to get scammed on Facebook.

If you use Facebook (it's quite likely that you do), how many times have you seen messages from friends that claim to know how many times their profiles have been viewed?  Quite a few probably.  As many as you get from friends who have recently subscribed to the newest purveyor of little blue pills, or those who use services to predict the future or other rather odd applications.

Needless to say, these are all scams, stealing your personal information while spamming your friends with their poison.

So, how do they work.  Simple really.  A so called viral link is generated by the scammer to entice the victim (for that's what they are - a victim) into clicking on a like button.  When that happens, the victim is taken to a genuine looking site that requests access to personal information - usually in a round about manner.  Before displaying the information that the victim was seeking in the first place, they are then taken to an online questionnaire to fill out.  Frequently this reveals even more information about the victim to the scammer.  Not only that, but the scammer most often actually gets paid for the completion of the questionnaire!

Finally the victim is shown a page that perhaps indicates he or she was "liked" so many times, or their page was visited by a particular demographic etc.  These are all fake and not worth your time.

Moreover, while the victim was entering all their personal preferences into the questionnaire, all their contacts and friends were receiving messages from the rogue app inviting them to fall victim too.

If you find yourself being spammed by such apps, simply block them in you profile.  If you have completed a questionnaire online for one of these scammers, be very careful to check your personal information and make sure it is not being used for criminal purposes.

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