If a tragedy makes the headlines, scammers will take advantage of it. Unfortunately, the recent crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is no exception. Spammers are using news of the tragedy as click bait for Facebook cons.
The scammers lure you in on Facebook by sharing a post that catches your attention. It appears to be from the account of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victim, and the post seems to link to information about the tragedy.
You click the link, thinking it leads to a news website. But instead of news, you get a barrage of spam ads for online gambling and other similar products.
Scammers love to take advantage of the hype surrounding major news stories -- especially tragedies. In addition to impersonating victims or family members on Facebook, con artists also post teasers for sensational video footage relating to the event. Click the link, and you may be prompted to “update your video player” (scam-speak for download malware) or take a survey before viewing. Doing either of these can open you up to identity theft or give scammers information (such as email addresses and cell phone numbers) they can sell to spammers.
Scammers also post sensational or emotional content as a way of collecting likes on a Facebook account. After enough likes and comments, they can turn around and sell the account for a profit.
Take the following steps to protect yourself and others from scam links shared through email and social media:
Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.
Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
Don’t trust your friends’ taste online. It might not actually be them liking or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked. But it may also be clickjacking, a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking something that you wouldn’t otherwise (especially the Facebook “Like” button).
On Facebook, report scam posts and other suspicious postings by using the report links usually located near the post itself.
On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, report it to Twitter by clicking the gear button for the block or report link.
Social media opens many avenues to keep up to date on the latest news events; unfortunately, scam artists are watching the news in order to develop their next scam. Avoid clicking on those sensationalized links and confirm stories using a reputable news outlet before sharing or retweeting it.
Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc., serving 41 counties in Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River area. Questions or complaints should be referred directly to the BBB at 478-742-7999, www.bbb.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.