If you’re a member of a Facebook group, chances are by now you would have seen posts about a dog that ran off or got injured, or the cat that hasn’t been back for three nights, or a child that hasn’t been seen since that morning. All of them, tugging at your heartstrings or invoking some emotion that causes you to share and comment.
Unfortunately this is another version of a Facebook scam that can ultimately put your social media friends at risk.
These posts are shared in local Facebook groups because there is already a sense of community and trust within these groups, and people may not realize that scammers are targeting members.
When the post has been shared multiple times and reaches a wide audience, the scammers would edit the post which includes changing the image, text and adding a link. The links in the post often lead to websites that contain malware or are phishing websites. Your Facebook friends get tricked into clicking on the links because they see it in your profile, which adds some validity to the content.
How you can identify the scams?
Here are some things that can help you spot and stop the spread of misinformation
- The information does not come from an official organization, or authentic source, news or otherwise. Friends and relatives should not be considered authentic sources for information of this nature, no matter how much you trust what they post.
- Bad grammar, probably a scammer. Check to see if the post uses UK spelling “neighbours” instead of “neighbors,”. There may also be incorrect spelling and poor or no punctuation.
- The first time you see the post is on a community page or group and you are unable to find any information legitimizing it from an authentic or official source.
- The post is not asking you to take the appropriate action or sharing how you can take the appropriate action. Posts like this should have a more appropriate and productive response such as to notify relevant authorities or even include a local phone number to call.
- The person posting in the group does not have a proper Facebook profile, which includes no profile picture, very little or no friends, very limited activity.
What should you do if you come across such posts?
- You and the group administrator should report the profile to Facebook
- The post should be deleted
- The user making the post should be blocked from posting
- Do not share – even if it is in an attempt to point it out as a scam. Not everyone reads the contents of a post and may just act on what they see in the image.