Romance and finance — that’s what gets the heart beating faster.
And that’s what appears at the root of most social media scams these days: love or money.
Despite repeated warnings from the fraud squad and constant news about social media fraud, the fleecing continues.
The pandemic pushed more shopping and more banking online, creating new opportunities to cheat the unsuspecting.
In the U.S., according to a Gallop poll, one in four has been a victim of cybercrime.
And there are always new victims for old scams.
The Marketplace overpayment is so common it’s listed on Tech Solutions’ top Facebook scams, but it happened to a family member just last month.
A buyer said they were interested in purchasing furniture the family member had posted for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
The potential buyer sent a cheque image for the amount asked — plus another $500. with a polite request to please transfer the extra money to pay the mover who would pick up the items of furniture.
The cheque image was sent to the family member’s bank for deposit, and fortunately, the bank spotted the scam and froze her account.
Had the bank not done so, she would have immediately forwarded the $500 to a fake “mover” without waiting to see if the purchaser’s cheque was even legit.
It wasn’t. The cheque would have bounced and she’d have been out of pocket the $500.
All the red flags were there — including the information that the mover coming for the furniture would take e-payment in gift cards. Still, being an honest person herself, this adult did not even think the transaction might be suspicious.
The overpayment scam is outlined in detail by the Canadian Bankers Association in their online guidance to avoiding cheque fraud.
In another case, a very savvy media person was hoodwinked into believing she’d had a legit communication from her boss requesting her help in sending gift cards to a handful of corporate clients.
This scam was more complex and a little more disturbing, as the scammers obviously had a lot of inside information.
Of course, inside information is what we all post on social media — pictures of family, friends, the workplace, local parks, favourite restaurants, holiday destinations — without even thinking about it.
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“My boss had just been in Toronto, and asked me to send gift cards to the four people with whom he’d just met,” said the media insider, who prefers to remain nameless.
“I asked if I could expense the cards through the usual channels and I thought it was all on the up and up.
“It was all done with a sense of urgency. You don’t question your boss.”
As a rule of thumb, gift cards are almost always a sign of a scam because they permit the transfer of money without a paper trail.
“If you’re honest, you assume others are too,” she said.
She lost several hundred dollars. The experience points to the need for vigilance with all electronic communication.
“These people are diabolical, crafty and smart.”