Social networking sites aren’t always as friendly as they seem.
While they can help you meet new people online, catch up with the latest goss and find friends from long ago, some of these sites are also targeted by scammers trying to make money out of you.
IBC Imperial Investment Coy and Affront Global Logistics - June 2018
WA ScamNet received a report of an $8,000 loss to a Facebook lottery/beneficiary scam. The scam followed a similar path as those previously reported (see below) – the victim was contacted by friend via Facebook messenger, not realising the friend’s account had been hacked. The message from the ‘friend’ detailed being selected as a beneficiary and receiving an amount of money from a lottery, and advising that the victim’s name was also on the list so they needed to get in contact with a customer service operator to receive the money.
The victim then followed directions to a fake Facebook page (claiming to be Ruth Riach- customer service operator for Mark Zuckerberg) and started a conversation via messenger about how to receive the funds. After visiting the website, http://ibcimperialinvestcoy.com/beneficiary-list/, and seeing their name on list of winners, the victim paid $8,000 in admin fees to be able to receive $150,000 and was given details for a delivery company - http://www.affrontglobalogs.com/home/index.php. Tracking information was sent with a request for another $16,000 for duty and taxes – and the victim then realised it was a scam after the friend advised their page had been hacked.
The fake Facebook page has since been removed, and the websites have been reported.
Be wary of anyone offering unexpected prizes or money, and verify with friends using a phone call or email that any suspicious messages have actually come from them. Do not reply or follow any links, just hit delete and block the sender – there are no Facebook lotteries or beneficiary lists.
Be suspicious of websites which have:
- grammar and spelling errors,
- no physical address listed, and the only way to contact the company is via email.
- been created recently despite claims that the company has been around for years – for example copyright 2018 at the bottom of the page.
Cloned accounts used in Facebook lottery scams
WA ScamNet has received several new reports about fake ‘Facebook lottery’ scams doing the rounds with reports of losses totalling more than $34,000 received so far this year.
Victims often first get a message via Facebook, supposedly from a friend, telling them they have won a large amount of money.
They are directed to confirm their name is on a winners list either through a website or by contacting another Facebook profile. They are then told that they have to pay certain fees to have it released, including customs and taxes, and to send through personal information such as their name, address and date of birth.
The victims are usually asked to make payments via Western Union, although the payments in recent cases have been declined by Western Union. So the scammers have begun requesting the payments to be made into bank accounts via a cash deposit – this makes tracing the money extremely hard and the likelihood of any return of money is minimal.
Two of the reports identified websites fedgovtgrant.nethouse.me and facebookpowerballclaim.nethouse.me. WA ScamNet has lodged requests with the network registrar and the website host for the sites to be taken down.
The friends’ FB account is usually found to have been cloned using publically visible profile pictures. When contacted, the friend is unaware that their page has been cloned and that messages are being sent out to their friends about a fake lottery win.
Be wary of anyone offering unexpected prizes or money, and verify with friends using a phone call or email that any suspicious messages have actually come from them. Do not reply or follow any links, just hit delete and block the sender – there are no Facebook lotteries.
February 2018 update
WA ScamNet has been getting reports from Facebook users about a message from a ‘friend’ which says something along the lines of:
“I’ve won money and you have too. Get in touch with this person who is running the lottery to claim your prize.”
We have reports from two people who followed the instructions and made the mistake of paying fees, through money transfer services Western Union and MoneyGram, supposedly to access their winnings. BUT they lost the money because there is no lottery – it’s a scam!
In those cases, scammers had actually cloned the friends Facebook profiles by replicating their name and photos. WA ScamNet had those fake accounts shut down.
Facebook splash lottery
Our Geraldton office has received complaints about a lottery winning scam – and just to prove everyone’s at risk – even a couple of Consumer Protection officers were targeted.
The scam contacts people via a mobile phone text message made to look like it’s been sent on behalf of Facebook.
As usual, huge amounts of money are offered.
Recipients are told they have won up to $750,000 in the 2011 FB Splash Lottery.
It even goes so far as claiming that Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, personally selected the winners’ names.
Recipients are instructed to email ‘R C Morgan’ through a Google mail address and told to send hundreds of dollars so the winnings can be delivered to their doorstep.
The scam tells recipients the 2011 FB Splash Lottery was set up to ‘serve as a means of appreciation to our customers and to help our customers fight off poverty.’
Of course what it’s really designed to do is help the scammers get rich by stealing your money.
Consumer Protection has checked with Facebook and their Sydney office has confirmed that Facebook has not authorised any Splash Lottery messages.
So if you get a mobile phone message that looks like it’s from Facebook and claiming you’ve won the 2011 FB Splash Lottery, don’t reply or follow any links, just hit delete and block the sender.
See also Lady office Gwen Roberts scam
We have more advice about how to spot social media scams.
Don’t fall victim. If you get a dodgy message at any time telling you you’ve won big money, report it to WA ScamNet on 1300 304 054.