Jim Fisher

This scam was popular about a year ago but it has re-emerged recently among lots of my friends on Facebook. I’m sure some of you have seen it, but the rest of you need to be aware of it.

You may receive a message from a Facebook friend that reads, “Hey Jim, I saw this video. Isn’t this you?” with a link to a website.

If you were to click on that link, one of a few different things may happen. Most recently, the link will ask you to sign in to Facebook using your email address and password. If you do that, congratulations, you just handed over your Facebook account to scammers. They will use their newfound power to send the same message from “you” to all your Facebook friends and accumulate even more Facebook accounts. Once they have control of your account, they can change the password and completely lock you out of your account. This enables the scammer to go on to the next part of the scam.

The scammer will then start messaging your friends offering them free money. If you’ve read any of my stuff, you know the catch here; you’ll have to send the scammer some money that will guarantee that you will receive some vastly large sum of money in return. This is known as the “advance-fee scam.” You also know that you’ll never see that money, right? Right.

Sometimes these links may contain a virus. That’s not really a big deal if you’re on a phone or tablet as they are mostly immune to virus attacks, but if you open the link on a desktop or laptop computer, all sorts of interesting things could happen such as ransomware (this is where all of your stuff gets encrypted is gone forever unless you hand over a ransom) and, well, pretty much everything else that viruses do to computers.

Related to this scam is one that has plagued me quite often recently. I’ll receive a message from a real Facebook friend, but when you open it up in messenger, it comes across as a message from someone that is not a friend (called a “message request”). The sender inevitably asks, “How are you doing, Jim?” If you play along, they typically inform you about some generous government program that is giving away free money. You already know the rest of that story, right? Please use the “report” feature on these scallywags so they don’t get a chance to scam someone else.

I know, it’s hard to know what’s real and not these days. I actually received one of these messages on my phone and clicked on the dumb thing without even thinking. After all, it was from a legitimate friend of mine. And that’s the rub; they lure you in via your trust on your friends. But now you know better, right?

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Reach him at www.ExcelAL.com