October 1, 2009

Facebook Alerts Members To New 419 Scam

Social networking sites have become prime targets for cyber-criminals, and now Facebook is warning its users of fraudsters that are impersonating people in order to get their friends to give them money.

According to the California-based company, it has seen a wave of "419 scams" involving cyber-crooks pretending to be a friend of a user and claiming to be penniless and stuck in a foreign country.

"While the total number of people who have been impacted is small, we take any threat to security seriously and are redoubling our efforts to combat the scam," Facebook engineer Alok Menghrajani said in a blog post.

The scammers utilize phishing techniques to dupe Facebook members into providing log-in information.

One method they have been known to use is sending legitimate-looking e-mail messages claiming to be from Facebook that ask members to visit a Web page and enter their log-in information. They also post messages on members' profile Walls with links to supposed video clips or photos that really lead to phishing Web sites.

"Once they've logged in, the scammers send Facebook Inbox and Chat messages and may even post status updates to the person's profile asking friends to send money, usually through Western Union," Menghrajani explained.

The message and money transfer service is currently working with Facebook to raise awareness about the scam, and has posted information on its website to alert customers to the danger of the 419 scam.

Facebook said it has improved automated systems to deal with the scam and is working with police and e-mail services to identify the criminals.

Menghrajani said that Facebook users would be wise to become "fans" of the social-networking service's security page, which provides advice on how to avoid scams and report suspicious activity in the online community.


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