Another social media scam operation appears to be underway, and the targets this time are innocent Facebook users.
Scammers are sending messages to Facebook users that their account could have been hacked. The sender of the message is usually a friend of the recipient of the message and they may not suspect anything in the message.
Only on closer examination, you may notice that the friend’s Facebook account from where the message appears to have been sent itself is not real but a cloned one.
Facebook has taken note of this new issue and has warned users to be cautious.
Appearing to Be Friendly
The message that many Facebook account holders have received in the last few days, reads something like this:
“Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW friendship FROM ME AT THIS TIME.”
The message that many Facebook account holders have received in the last few days says that the person (scammer) has received a friend request from you for the second time and that he/she is not open to accepting a new friend request at this point in time.
The message also asks you to forward the piece of text to other friends in your friends list by selecting the names individually.
This kind of messaging is reminiscent to the viral email scams that used to be a lot more common in the early days of email communication.
Someone will hack your email and send multiple messages to the contacts as if the email was sent by you.
In that, the recipient will be told that you have lost your wallet and need them to send money to a bank account, which is not yours in the first place.
The immediate reaction of a friend is to come to your help—and this tendency is what the scammers want to take advantage of.
Social media messaging scams are increasingly prevalent, with phishing attacks rising by 500 percent in recent years.
The Process Explained
Snopes, a fact-checking site, has taken the task of explaining how the scammers go about constructing this whole phishing campaign.
As indicated above, the Facebook account from which the above messages are sent are cloned accounts.
They first obtain some basic details of a person—such as their profile picture and name—and send out friend requests and based on the information collected, create a clone account.
Ordinary people can easily be misled into believing that the Facebook page is original and sometimes end up giving up more information inadvertently.
They have also pointed out that the message that comes to the victims may not always be from the cloned version.
However, the hoax is on and has gone viral. A number of people have complained of having received this message, which is identically worded.
Steps to Avoid Further Damage
Now that you are aware such a hoax exists, you can be on the lookout for suspicious messages that reach your inbox.
If you think someone may be trying to hack you by impersonating one of your friends, you can report the account to Facebook.
You can also check directly with your friends and family. Ask if they have received any suspicious messages from your account. If they haven’t, then it’s possible you were a target in the hoax.