Strawberry Plains woman hit by Facebook Messenger scam

STRAWBERRY PLAINS (WATE) – Scammers love crowds, and there isn’t one bigger than Facebook. Some scams on the social media site are phishing schemes trying to obtain your username and password. Others just want any information they can gather.

One of the most prolific and profitable scams is cloning profiles that are easily sent to your phone. Cyber criminals use this tactic to data mine user accounts or to spread malicious links, all in an effort to get your hard-earned money.

Debbie Day really believed she was receiving a message from her friend, but it wasn’t. She uses Facebook Messenger to talk to her friends. Two of her closest friends are named Jack and Jo Ann. Recently, she received a message, believing it was from Jo Ann.

“She had asked me if I had heard from the CFDA. I didn’t know what that was,” said Day.

CFDA is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. It provides a list of government-wide federal programs or services offering assistance or benefits to people, like grants.

“She said, well, she had won a promotion grant through them. When they brought their money out to them, she saw my name on it. My name on their list,” Day said.

Debbie Day
Debbie Day

Day was offered a grant of $50,000 – money she could definitely use. To get it, however, she’d have to pay a fee.

“It’s funny how fast you can be drawn into something. Especially when you need money,” she said.

Day messaged who she thought was her friend Jo Ann about the fee.

“She said, yes, we had to pay it and five of my friends had to pay it,” she said.

Now convinced, Day was in direct contact with the scammers, but she didn’t know that at the time.

“They wanted my mother’s name, my address, email,” said Day.

Day gave them that information and more, but eventually told them she didn’t have easy access to the $850 in fees that had to be sent first in order to receive the grant.

“Well they texted me back and said, ‘Can you get a loan?’ she said. The scammers didn’t give up.

Hair stylist Michelle Lawson had a similar story last September. At the time, she was working two jobs so she could send her son to college. Out of the blue, she received information on Facebook from her friend, Karen. It wasn’t Karen – her Facebook page had also been cloned, but Lawson didn’t know it at the time.

She sent $450 and received a phony certificate of delivery, but there was never any money.

Previous story: Knoxville woman warns others after becoming victim of Facebook scam

If you receive a friend request from someone you are already friends with and you’re offered money, don’t confirm the request until you verify it by actually talking to them on the phone.

Make sure your privacy and sharing options are set appropriately so people you are not friends with can’t view your photos and videos. Profile pictures and cover photos are public by default, and this can’t be changed. So don’t post a photo of yourself that can be copied and used against you.

You should also set your friends list to “Me Only,” so your account will no longer be desirable to those who want to scam your account by contacting those in your friends list.

Several Facebook scams can spread viruses and other malware, so it’s important to keep anti-virus software installed and updated.

Day learned her lesson.

“Be leery of any text that asks you for any information or any money. even though it is your friend,” said Day.

Day’s friends Jo Ann and Jack had nothing to do with the scam.

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