MILWAUKEE -- The BBB is warning social media users that scammers are taking advantage of social networking sites, earning victims’ trust by pretending to be someone they already know and send out a message or two with a great new cure for COVID-19, a fundraising request or perhaps a discount on the most sought after items such as toilet paper, face masks and sanitizers.
How the Scam Works
While scrolling through Facebook, a message pops up in Facebook Messenger. It’s your friend, family member, or neighbor. At least it "looks" like them because the profile picture matches. From here, the conversation goes one of two ways. In one version, your “friend” tells you about the latest cure, prevention tactic against the coronavirus or the most awesome deal they found on masks. All you have to do is select a link, share the good news, or simply respond to the message. In some cases, perhaps you want to take part in the offer and are ready to pay a processing fee and tax. Stop and think: would your real friend pass along this type of information?
In another version, the “friend” claims to be raising money for a charity to support emergency personnel, a food bank or some other organization that has really been hit hard by coronavirus situation. They ask you to make a donation. In either case, you’d normally be suspicious of the situation, but the message is coming from someone you know and trust. Or is it?
BBB warns everyone before responding to such a request, check that the Facebook profile image is from who it says it is. Or, go the extra step and call, text, or email the friend to see if they really did send it to you.
How to Protect Yourself from Facebook Scams
For other recent Facebook-related warnings, see BBB's articles on sharing your senior photo and taking Facebook quizzes.
For More Information
To learn more about avoiding scams, read BBB’s article 10 Steps to Avoid Scams. To learn about online charity fundraising, check out these tips on Give.org. Also, see Give.org’s Giving Guidance & Tips.
Report your experience on BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your experience can help others to spot a scam.