An elderly Fayetteville resident was bilked out of a substantial amount of money when she fell victim to scam on the internet last Tuesday.
According to a Fayetteville Police Department report prepared by Patrolman Lucas Steele, the woman was contacted through Facebook Messenger by a person using the name of someone with whom she was familiar. The message noted that the individual won $200,000 and that her friends could too if they contacted “Agent Stanley Michaels” on Facebook.
The woman then contacted “Michaels” through Facebook, and he stated that to win the money she needed to send $5,000 to a Grace Williams in Los Angeles, Calif.
According to police, the local woman went to the bank, withdrew the funds and sent the money via UPS.
When she called the agent to verify that she sent the money, the man on the phone said she needed to send an additional $22,000 for her to receive the $200,000. The woman then became suspicious and contacted the person who supposedly sent the original message; that person confirmed that her Facebook page had been hacked, and she did not send the message.
According to the Better Business Bureau, this is a common scam exploiting the ties that Facebook users have with other Facebook “friends.” Scammers will “hack” or replicate a user’s account, then send messages to everyone on that person’s Facebook friend list. This increases the chances that someone could fall for a scam, because the message came from someone they believed was a person they know.
BBB reminds the public that legitimate notifications of prize winnings or grants do not come via social media, and it is illegal to require a fee to collect a prize.
BBB offers these tips to help protect against Facebook scams:
· Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook Messenger, even if it appears to be from someone you know and trust, especially if it involves receiving or sending money.
· Don’t automatically accept new Facebook friend requests with names you know without first verifying that the person isn’t already on your “friend” list. If he/she is, it could be a sign that his/her account has been hacked.