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Facebook Money & Romance Scams: An Intricate Web of Deceit

30
Sep
2011

scamUsing Facebook as a means for communication is becoming more and more treacherous as scams running through the site have become more intricate and much harder to detect.

One woman named Edythe Schumacher has just recently fallen victim to one of these scams. The scammer successfully impersonated her sister, Susan Palmer, and convinced her to send $2,000 to an address in Massachusetts. Her “sister” claimed that she had just received a government grant of up to $500,000 and that Edythe could receive one too if she just sent $2,000 to the said address through Western Union. The scammer even gave her someone to contact for more information, a guy called “Sgt. Chris Swecker”. Edythe did contact him and “Swecker” claimed that he worked with the Federal Government Humanity and Empowerment Program.

Seeing no reason for her sister to deceive her, Edythe went ahead and sent the money – only to find out that it was a scam and her sister’s Facebook account had actually been hacked.

$2,000 is a paltry amount compared to what others have lost, but what sets this case apart is the scammer’s guts to impersonate an actual family member – in a live chat, no less. The scammer was obviously skilled in what he did, as he even provided actual names and addresses, all of them innocent bystanders to the scam. Chris Swecker, as it turns out, is a real person. Ironically, he’s an FBI agent who specialized in electronic crimes in his younger days. The Western Union Address was that of a nonprofit agency called The Children’s Study Home. 

The scammer had also tried to target another of Palmer’s friends, but she was not deceived.

This scam, though unusually bold, is unfortunately not the only one making its rounds through the social networking site. There are several others just as bold and, in some cases, much worse.

Some scammers really dedicate their time and effort in their attempts to fleece from money from their victims.  It’s not just the victim’s wallets that they harm, but also their emotional wellbeing. Take for example the “romance scams” that are becoming all too common on Facebook. The scammer poses as a soldier and gets some unfortunate woman to fall in love with him. Once the woman succumbs to his ‘charms’, the soldier will ask for money and continue to ask for more as long as he can get away with it.

It’s not just women being targeted either. Oftentimes, older men are targeted and fooled by younger women – only to get asked for money later on.

It’s really amazing how far scammers are willing to go just to get money. The only thing we can really do to protect ourselves is to match the scammers’ determination with vigilance, education about these scams and a healthy amount of suspicion towards anyone asking for money.

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