A Missouri woman was tricked into wiring about $4,000 to someone in England after receiving faked messages from a friend on Facebook asking for help, police said Wednesday.
Jayne Scherrman of Cape Girardeau wired the money through Western Union after receiving what she believed were several requests for help from her friend, Sgt. Jason Selzer said.
Police were notified about the scam on Aug. 26, Selzer said. They believe someone took over the Facebook account of a Cape Girardeau County resident, Grace Parry, changed the password so she couldn’t access it and sent out messages saying she and her husband had been detained in London and needed money. (Source: Boston.Com)
It was only inevitable that scammers figured out an easy way to bilk someone out of money using Facebook. Why not? You add friends, friends of friends, cousins of those friends of friends and whoever else requests it. After a while you’ve got 14, 594 friends and not a clue who half of them are.
In this case, someone took over the identity of a Facebook member and because all their friends are listed, they started looking at who would be a good target to send money.
Still, this scam, like all of them, is dependant on the victim opening the door. In this case, the victim called the person who was supposedly in need but that person was unavailable. She wired the money and then called again but by the time she found out the plea for help was fake, she had wired the four-grand.
Here is a five-part checklist that you should pull out anytime you have an unsolicited request for money or some sort of unusual request that doesn’t seem quite right.
1. Be skeptical. You don’t have to sound overtly skeptical but in your mind, tell yourself that you need proof and then some.
2. Don’t consider Internet, e-mail or phone solicitations to be a final legitimate source of information. Remember the bank e-mails requiring you to verify your account numbers? They were very official looking with bank logos and all. They were fake.
3. Call the established phone numbers and verify with a human being. Strangely enough, there are still humans manning customer service lines. Even if it takes a while, speak to someone. Banks have security people. Contact them and they will have the information you need.
4. Do the research. Check the blogs and run these requests on the search engines and see who else has had similar experiences.
5. Bottom line: Do your homework on everything. Scams can’t fool smart victims-to-be. Ask, ask again, and check. Then double check.
There are dozens more ways to reducing your chances of being a victim. If you know, post them here, but one fundamental should be an absolute for you. Ask questions. Not one but several.
Scams cannot stand up to the scrutiny of someone informed and willing to investigate a little.