Anatomy of a Facebook Scam & how it spreads like Wildfire!

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I just came across a message post on my Facebook timeline – A typical message which was screaming “Facebook Scam” at me. It had all the unique traits of Scam message. Following is the message I am talking about!

FB-Scam

Generally, I just ignore these messages and never click on them – however, I decided to do little bit of further investigation on this, just to see where this chain leads to and here are some of my observations and some help for users who get caught in this kind of scam bait!

Before I tell you how to identify a spam / hoax message – Let me give you an idea as to how viral these kind of messages are. Once I click on the link, it send me to a simple blogspot page [http:// watchthatblogdze.blogspot.com], which essentially presents me with no text, but just a picture and a download link.

The download link is the main thing that may cause immeasurable harm to not only you, your computer or even your contacts! This is the page you see when you click on the Shared facebook link:scam-main-page

After going through the source of the page, it also has analytics to track the number of people coming to the site – When I saw the stats, I was literally shocked. Over 2000 users were online when I saw it and at peak it had about 3500 users online. And this in matter of just 48 hours – 2 days back, this site had 0 visitors!

users

According to my guess, close to a million users may have visited that page and probably quarter of them may have ended up downloading that “plugin”. I did not download it for obvious reasons, so I cannot comment on what damage it does, but people who did have relayed the message to their entire facebook contacts (that’s how someone posted on my wall as well!)

How to identify a Facebook Scam / Hoax Message

1.) Keep away from Sensational / unbelievable Messages

The messages that are most inviting have a sensational or unbelievable content in it. In this particular case, not only was the message sensational, but it also had my name in it to make it more personal. When you see your name, it is convincing that someone has typed the message by hand and must be genuine, but that is not the case. The learning is keep away from sensational headlines….period!

2.) Offers that are too good to Resist!

Scammers use this to max effect – Whenever you see an unbelievable offer like “USD 50 Gift certificate – just claim it”, most likely it is a scam. Beware of such offers!

3.) Download a program / upgrade something

Again – This is worst of all. The message will never ask you to download anything directly, but will misguide you in downloading something that is sure to cause harm. The case above is exactly that – If you see the 2nd screenshot, it clearly mentions that if you want to see the video, please download the plugin and that’s the crux. NEVER EVER DOWNLOAD ANYTHING!

4.) Bad grammar, very informal messages

Somehow, I have seem that most scam / hoax messages have bad language – It is probably used to make the message look more human and real. It will also have many exclamation marks making it sensation. Leave this messages alone!

5.) Survey Form / contests etc.

Now, let me tell you many contests and survey are real, but many scammers also use this method to get personal information from users. If at all you come across any survey / poll, ensure that everything is real and if you have slightest doubt. Back away, it may cause more harm than good!

In conclusion, it is better to be safe than sorry – Curiosity is good in general, but when it comes to Facebook, curb those instincts!

Note: I have not deleted that FB message on my wall, if you want to see it check out my FB Page

  1. Rakesh says

    Interesting read, FB has become the playground of malicious software….I did analyze one such scam some time back…interested people can read it here http://simplified-security.blogspot.com/2010/09/facebook-like-scams.html

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