By Curtis Bailey, Co-founder of Senior Scam Action Associates and co-host of The Scammercast podcast
I received a panicked call from a dear client of mine last evening. She recently lost her husband and has been slowly developing new routines and friendships. Like so many people over 50, she joined Facebook and has been happily reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances. The ability to communicate with people she has not seen in many years is a great way for her to stay connected with people.
Of course, this ability to instantly communicate with others makes Facebook great, but it is also a weakness. Here’s how the scam unfolded. My client received a private message from a person she knew in another town. Thinking nothing of it, my client began an online conversation with the person. They exchanged the normal pleasantries: “Hi, how have you been?” and so on. How many times have we all had this kind of conversation on Facebook or social media?
Here’s where things started to turn ugly. Her friend said that she had won $150,000 from Facebook and another organization and she had seen my client’s name on the Award winner list! Exciting news, right? Hardly… The friend went on to say all my client had to do was “friend” another person who was with Fed Ex and he would give all the details. When my client did that, the person began asking for personal information and requested that she pay a $370 delivery fee to receive an award check. With that, my client did the absolute right thing. She terminated the communication and did not give out any personal information.
This is just another example of the kinds of scams out there on social media these days. Scammers are now spoofing Facebook identities of users’ friends and contacts to extract money from the unsuspecting. If you come across this kind of scam, stop! Terminate the conversation immediately! Do not give out any personal identifying information and never, Never, NEVER give out any financial or bank account information.
Fortunately, my client had her “scam detector” working on high alert and she avoided a potential problem. Unfortunately, many of our seniors do not. Please share this information with the seniors you care about, particularly those that are users of social media. Together, we can “Hammer the Scammers!”
For more information about how to prevent scams and fraud, visit our website at www.scammercast.com where you can subscribe to our podcast. Also, please leave us a note at the website if you have seen this scam or others like it so we can share the information with others.