Facebook and other social media websites continue to be the targets of scammers trying to steal users identities. In one of the latest schemes, hackers who hijack Facebook accounts are using it to steal money.
The scam is an evolution of an older email scam. In the past, a scammer would compromise an individual's email account and send messages to everyone in the address book. The message, which looked like it was from the victim, said the individual is traveling in a foreign country and lost all their money. It asked that the recipient wire some cash.
By hacking into a Facebook account, the scammer's job is actually easier. Instead of reaching out to everyone in an address book, the hacker appeals to the victim's Facebook "friends."
"People lower their guard when someone they know from a social networking site needs their help," said New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow. "Rather than sending an email to random people, these thieves have learned they can improve their chances by hacking into social networking accounts and then directing pleas for money to the account holder's list of friends."
First, the scammer has to hack into the Facebook account. Some common warning signs that a criminal is trying to hijack a user's account while on the social networking site include:
Anything that asks you to paste a code or URL into your browser;
Quizzes, polls or contests that require you to provide personal information such as your social security number, credit card number or bank account information;
Requests that you update Flash Player or other programs, or that you download a new program; and
Anything that requires you to link to another page and invites your friends to that page.
In order to protect yourself, you should be wary of these warning signs and guard against any actions that would provide criminals with the tools necessary to break into your account.
If you can't log into your account, this is a warning sign that it's been hacked, Dow said. Contact the social website to report this and to have your account disabled.