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ECSO: Be careful of fake 'friends' on Facebook

POSTED: July 17, 2014 8:51 p.m.

Accepting a Facebook friend request from the wrong person could turn out to be a costly mistake.

An increasingly-common online scam, according to the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, is thieves using phony Facebook profiles to obtain people’s personal information and steal from them.

“By the day, these scammers are coming up with new ideas,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

In some instances, he said, a person claiming to be a site administrator sends a Facebook user a friend request. Once the request is accepted, the scammer sends a private message stating the person won the Facebook lottery.

“The person will email you telling you to contact FedEx delivery online to claim your money, but the catch is you have to pay $350 in shipping and processing fees to get access to the money,” Ehsanipoor said.

In other cases, someone receives a private message from what appears to be a Facebook administrator asking to verify the user’s password. That too is a scam, Ehsanipoor said, and could jeopardize a user’s online profile.

“You are not going to win the lottery from Facebook,” he said, “and Facebook will never request information via a private message.”

Along with claiming to be an online administrator, a con artist might pose as someone who already is on a Facebook user’s list of friends. The scammer does that by setting up a fake Facebook account with the friend’s picture and then sending a message about lottery winnings, Ehsanipoor said.

In that instance, the ECSO suggests contacting the friend to see if their account has been hacked.

“Just use common sense,” Ehsanipoor said. “If something does not seem right, it probably isn’t.”

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