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The Lottery Scam Is Now On Facebook Too

The Lottery Scam Is Now On Facebook Too

Maybe this post should start with the old adage: be very cautious when things seem too good to be true. This latest fraud taking place on Facebook surely fits the warning.  Despite all the media and warnings about scams, the reported cases on Facebook and other social media continues to climb.

The lottery scam is quite an old scheme. It has traditionally initiated by an email that states the receiver has won a very important amount of money from an overseas lottery, and that he/she should contact an agent who will instruct them on how to cash the prize. Once the person contacts the supposed agent, the next step is to pay an advanced fee, usually for paperwork. The catch is of course that there is no real prize, and the victim has been ripped off with the sum of the advanced fee.

Many people might think that this is an already over-used scheme and that nobody falls for it anymore, but unfortunately, there are still a lot of victims, especially because scammers always have a way to give it a new twist.  In fact, scammers change their approach on a normal basis, so sending spam emails is no longer the norm.  Experienced criminals are turning to new ways to steal your money.  Philippines investigators recently made a significant arrest where scammers were working together in a call center type environment, targeting victims by the thousands.  Anyone can be a victim of these crimes.

One of the last methods has been to contact people through Facebook scams, with the same “You just won a Lottery Prize” story. The difference? Just at about the same time you´ve been notified of the prize, a “good friend of yours” starts a chat in which they assure this time it is legit. The friend´s profile is a clone, but by the time victims find out of the cloning, it has been too late.

Facebook or other social network profiles cloning is a common practice between scammers, and it´s relatively easy to do for a computer hacker or scammer. When analyzing common scam methods, international investigators agree that many of them still keep the core. At the end the stories are the same that had been used even before the Internet existed. The clue for fraudsters is to give it a little twist, combine different methods and use new means of contacting people.

There are many other variations, amongst which different kinds of prizes, inheritances, romance scams and even blackmailing can come into the picture. If you are contacted by a complete stranger about something that is very unusual, and that it involves money, try to ignore it. If, on the other hand, the request comes from someone you know or if it looks genuine, seek professional help. Nobody wants you to miss a great opportunity, but it´s best to be careful rather than to be a victim.

Helping others can be dangerous online, so even if it seems to be for a good cause, stop and verify.  Background checks are the best way to lower your risk and verify if an offer is truly legitimate.  Even phishing scams can be used so the offer can look like your bank or credit card company, or from another trusted source.  Things are not always what they seem, and try not to click on links in any email you’re not 100% sure about.  For friend requests on Facebook, be skeptical and avoid links.

Lottery scams sent to you in spam emails might be dead.  But the new and improved, far more complicated lottery scams have just begun, and are targeting potential victims on social media.  If you receive a message from someone you don’t know, stop and verify, and then decide.

C. Wright
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