Thursday, August 7, 2014

Watch for Facebook Scam Artist

As writers we need to be out there for people to learn and know about us, but this also makes us vulnerable for scams. Last week, for example, I received a scam and wanted you to be aware of this in case you are targeted as well.
The scam was prevalent and widespread as I saw other friends' posts who also experienced the scam. 
        It began with a message from a high-school friend who I never had chatted with before on Facebook. Thus, I was delighted to hear from her and knew she was a good and honest person. This also was why I did not discount the validity of the message from the beginning.
Her message started with a hello and I responded with a “hi” and continued with a few lines of conversational banter but after that the scam began. It ran something like this: Did you know Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is running a $90,000 lottery promotion?
Lottery promotion I thought. This is unusual since lotteries are run by municipalities or states and is a form of gambling so how in the world could he offer a lottery promotion, which would not only include the United States but all over the world? This could not be legal. 
        In Nebraska, there was a ballot issue to allow for casino gambling (in order to compete with Council Bluffs, Iowa, which has several casinos and lies across the river from Omaha). The Nebraska measure was defeated, but my point is it had to be legally approved. So the word, “lottery,” was a red flag, especially since I am a political junky and a former journalist.
My supposed friend’s wining portion was “delivered” to her. Delivered? What an odd choice of words. Money is either sent to your checking account or a check is sent to your home but “delivered?” This gave  me an uneasy feeling.
It proceeded, saying they saw my profile as a winner, and I needed to contact this claim agent to receive it. I thought at first my friend was kidding so I wrote yes and answered I sure would not want to miss my 50 cents worth. After this, the person provided a link to this particular claim agent’s Facebook link. If the Internet has taught me anything, it is to not click links from unknown sources.
The message continued. I could see my friend was serious. I replied, "I thought you were kidding but you are serious, aren’t you?" The person replied with a yes. At this point, I stopped communicating with my friend and really got an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my gut.
I called a friend and asked her advice. She too thought this whole thing sounded too good to be true and mentioned a fact I had not thought of and this was what were the odds that both of us could win? 
So I discounted the message and returned to my regular tasks. About a half hour later, a writing friend asked me to befriend her. I confirmed the request since I did know her. The message again started with a “hello” then asked if I heard about the $90,000 lottery giveaway. That is when I knew the whole thing definitely was a scam.
What did I do? I deleted the messages and reported the scam to Facebook. You can to do this on your page and select different options, such as “delete” or “delete and report scam.” I soon discovered the person who requested my friendship was already my Facebook friend so I unfriended the fake one and, as with anything of this nature, it is suggested you change your password. 
Anyway, I thought I would alert you to this scam since writers use the Internet to interact with friends and provide updates on what you are doing in the writing arena. May this post prevent you from this scam and others. Remember most people are honest brokers, but there always are those scammers. God bless. 

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