One of the most popular scams on Facebook is to send messages from a compromised account to that user’s friends, aiming to trick them into following dangerous links, revealing sensitive data, or sending money to the scammer.
One example of this is the ‘Facebook Jackpot Project’, which claims to be a lottery in which users can win big. The scam targets users with claims they have just won lots of money and they recognised you on the list of winners.
Rejoice! You just won a lottery that didn’t require you to do anything to win, and your friend is here to help you collect the money! Next, they tell you that all you need to do is transfer some money as an admin fee, and the prize money will be yours. Your alleged winnings are a much larger amount than the admin fee, so if it’s real, it’s clearly worth it.
It is, of course, too good to be true, and if you pay the admin fee, your ‘prize money’ will not be forthcoming. Some scammers will try to string you along with a series of fees to pay, each promising to be the last, as they try to wring as much money as possible out of you and relying on the sunk cost fallacy to keep you paying up.
A similar principle is behind other scams, a promise that if you give a small amount of money, a larger amount will be sent your way shortly afterwards. The Nigerian Prince scam is one of the most infamous of these. Once they’ve got your money, they’ll disappear and not deliver the larger amount promised.
A stranger telling you about easy money is unlikely to be believed, so the scam relies on pretending to be someone you trust, but the messages aren’t from your friend. Someone has gained access to their account; potentially through similar Facebook messenger scams and is exploiting it to perpetuate the cycle.
If you receive such a message, or hear that someone you know has received one, get in contact with your friend outside of Facebook if you can, so they can immediately take steps to secure their account. We’ve discussed how to secure a compromised account in a previous article, which you can find here.