How far the scam spreads?
To understand this, Websense studied the “FATHER gets TOTALLY Embarrassed after entering Daughters Room” scam, which broke out in July 2011. From the graph we can see how the scam spread, slowly picking up its pace, and on July 21 there were more than 3,000 users visiting the link every second, after which the numbers dropped significantly.
The reason why the visitors count dropped is because a number of blogs reported about the scam by alerting users not to click on it, or perhaps Facebook security blocked the URLs. The scam lasted for almost two weeks; however, scammers didn’t stop right there. They created more new scam messages with different URLs and titles.
How do scammers make money?
Now that the user has shared the message, it’s time for the scammer to loot you. After the message has been shared, you will be redirected to another page where you will be asked to complete surveys. 99% of users will understand that they have been tricked and will not complete any surveys. However, the remaining 1% of users is still something great to scammers. Why? Because these users will be tricked to enter their credit card details or bank details. Sometimes, users will be tricked to enter their Facebook username and password, which in the end, will be sent to the scammer via email. The scammer will misuse the details by stealing your money or hacking into your account.
Websense states that “currently, the scams only redirect Facebook users to a phishing Web site to complete a scam survey. If this type of contamination directs users to install rogue antivirus software and to exploit kits, the security impact is unthinkable.”
How to identify and avoid clicking on scam messages?
Avoiding scams on Facebook is not an easy task. Scam messages look like every other message appearing in your news feed. Scams have the ability to draw attention due to the thumbnails and titles used in it. Here are some tips on how you can identify and avoid Facebook scam messages -
- Avoid clicking on short URLs. If you really want to see where the URL leads to, then try using http://longurl.org/ to expand the URL.
- Avoid strange messages sent to you by your friends. If you feel that the message is inappropriate, then you always have an option to ask your friends and verify it.
- If you receive messages sent by a user who is not on your friends list, then check for any links and read tip 1.
- Minimize the use of applications on Facebook. They’re quite useless.
- If you are asked to grant permissions after clicking on a link, then make sure that you are granting permission to the right application. You can always revoke permissions by going to Account > Account Settings > Applications