Snippets issue details latest Facebook phishing scam and two new tricks using Amazon name: Internet Scambusters #698
We have another Snippets issue for you this week, focusing on phishing and two other new tricks that exploit the reliability most of us place on two well-known Internet names.
First, we explain how phony warnings on Facebook are being used to try to get victims to disclose their sign-on details.
Then we tell you about two sneaky new scams using the name of Amazon to try to trick people into paying money for a grant or into sending out items they're selling.
Let's get started...
Phishing on Facebook and Shooting the Scam Rapids on Amazon
Phishing emails and text messages that try to trick victims into giving away confidential information like account sign-on details or credit card numbers are a dime a dozen these days.
Usually, these messages claim the victim's account has been frozen until they sign on again by clicking a link that leads to a bogus page imitating the real provider of the account.
Mostly, they're easy to spot, but not so for a clever phishing scam on Facebook.
This doesn't come as an email or text message but in the shape of a comment on an item a user has on his or her own Facebook page.
Scammers create an account with an official sounding, security related name, so that victims think the comment has come directly from Facebook.
The supposed comment then reverts to the old trick of warning that the user's account and their Facebook page are about to be disabled.
The poorly worded warning reads:
"Your page has been reported by others about the abuse, this is a violation of our agreement and may result in your page Disabled. Please verify your email account to prove this is your page and help us do more for security and comfort for everyone.
"Please check your account as proof of legitimate owner of the account that you use. Make sure you enter the correct details below."
The message has two boxes for recipients to enter their email address and their Facebook password, along with date of birth details and a "Confirmation" button, which is actually linked to a bogus Facebook page.
In another version, victims are asked to click a link to something labeled "Facebook.Recovery.page" (separated by periods).
In both cases, after providing their sign-on information, victims are weirdly asked for their credit card number.
The message warns: "Caution. If you do not update your credit card your payment page will be disabled."
Sometimes, there's also a link to a phony PayPal sign-on page.
This is quite a complex and well-executed scam but hopefully the poor wording will flag it up for what it really is. It's likely by now that Facebook has removed it but that doesn't mean someone won't try a similar trick again.
Note that Facebook does not issue warnings in this manner and certainly doesn't ask for credit card or PayPal details for membership, although payments may be involved for advertisement or charitable contributions.
If you still feel uncertain about what to do, visit Facebook's own security page dealing with suspicious emails and messages.
Another well-known Internet name that scammers frequently rely on to trick their victims is retailing giant Amazon.
In one of the latest scams, a crook claiming to be from the "Building Money Network" contacts victims by phone saying they've been selected to receive a $6,000 grant from a charitable organization backed by Amazon, Visa and other companies.
The smooth-talking con man says that the firms are donating the cash to reduce their tax liabilities and that they select a couple of thousand recipients each year.
The catch? Recipients have to pay an upfront fee of around $1,000 to trigger the grant, and they're usually asked to pay immediately by giving the con man their credit card number -- risking the further possibility of identity theft.
It turns out this is just one of many ruses using the name of "Building Money Network" as a front for offering deals in return for upfront payments.
In each case, the way to avoid these scams is the same: Never pay money to get money from an unsolicited call.
Amazon Scam #2
Amazon users -- this time, sellers -- have also been targeted in another scam.
As well as selling products from their own warehouses and on behalf of other merchants, the online retailer also allows individuals to offer items for sale via the listings pages for particular products.
When an item sells, Amazon emails the seller, saying payment has been received and asking them to ship the product.
It's easy for crooks to spoof this type of communication, but the giveaway that it's a scam is that the crooks say that the payment will not be forwarded to the seller's account until they can prove the item has been shipped, which Amazon doesn't do.
If you're selling something on Amazon and receive a "sold" message, simply go to your Amazon seller's account and check it. If a sale isn't recorded there, then it's a scam.
Alert of the Week
Have you been tricked into wiring money via MoneyGram as part of a scam?
If so, you may have a chance to get some money back after the firm agreed to pay $9 million to reimburse some victims.
To have a chance of getting compensation -- and we don't want to build up your hopes -- you must have actually lodged a complaint with MoneyGram between July 2008 and August 2009.
If you think you qualify, contact your state Attorney General's office (not MoneyGram).
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!