by Joan Goodchild

15 Social Media Scams

Jun 20, 20126 mins
CybercrimeData BreachIntrusion Detection Software

From Facebook phishing lures to Twitter and Tumblr hoaxes, here are 15 scams to watch out for on social networking sites.

The 419 scam

Scammers hack into Facebook accounts and pretend to be traveling and stranded somewhere without any money. The ruse, called a 419 scam, usually begins an IM on Facebook to someone in the victim’s network pleading for help. The scammer claims to have been robbed or hit with another such tragedy, leaving them without any cash or credit cards. They typically ask the target to wire them money for a return ticket home and promise to pay them back upon return.  

See who viewed your profile!

This scam has been making the rounds on Facebook for years and plays to the user’s ego and desire for information about who is checking out their Facebook page.

But the scam usually asks you to allow an application to access your profile, which then typically leads to a fraudulent survey which earns a commission for the spammer. Not only will you be left still wanting to know who is visiting your profile, you’ve also just shared your information with the shady character who developed the fake application.

Dad walks in on daughter …. Embarrassing!

Another example of clickjacking, this scam also promises you something you will likely never actually get. This scam promises a controversial video, but instead ends up leading the Facebook user to an online survey to earn a commission for the spammer.

Get a Starbucks gift card!

A free gift card sounds great, except that it will never actually arrive. This scam is a phishing attempt to get users to divulge personal information and even sign them up for expensive services. The gift-card scam takes on new forms each month but there is almost always one going on at any given time. Other common gift-card scams include fake offers from the Cheesecake Factory and Victoria’s Secret.

The ‘dislike’ button

Do Facebook members want a ‘dislike’ button to add to the feature of being able to ‘like’ a status update or picture? Apparently, many do, because this scam continues to be a successful trick. The scam appears to allow the user to “enable dislike button.” But, instead, various versions of this trick have run an obfuscated Javascript on the user’s machine or even lead them to a survey scam. It also often spams itself out to other users’ walls.

Make thousands working from home!

These usually-bogus offers on Twitter direct the recipient of the tweet to an offer that charges for a “kit” that can help the person get started on making thousands “working right from the comfort of home.” Sounds too good to be true? It’s almost always is a scam. Any job that requires a fee for you to start is going to be fraudulent.

Also seen on Facebook walls, these messages will ask luring questions like “Is this you in this video?” and then send you to a malicious link that never shows you a video but instead downloads malware onto your computer.

Twitter mentions

Like the previous scam, the scammers take advantage of your desire to see who is “mentioning” you on Twitter. The mysterious mentions often come from Twitter followers you don’t know. That’s because they are spammers trying to trap curious users. While it may have your Twitter handle, the link will likely lead you somewhere dangerous.

LinkedIn stock scam

Pump-and-dump-stock scams aim to temporarily inflate the price of a stock by spreading good news about the company so others invest, then the scammers sell off their shares for a profit and the stock goes down again. LinkedIn users have recently been the target of this type of stock scam. The link leads members to a video that encourages them to invest in a so-called “up and coming” educational software company.

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Justin Bieber stabbed!

Fake celebrity news is almost always a sure way to get clicks. The problem is those links are almost always a sure way to get your machine infected with malware or to find yourself involved in a phishing attempt. Other recent celebrity news hoaxes have included promises of Osama Bin Laden’s death video and claims that 90’s rapper Vanilla Ice had died.

Your account has been cancelled.

This scam tries to scare you into thinking your social media account has been cancelled without your consent. But these emails, which appear to legitimately be coming from the supposed source, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, are actually a phishing attempt to get you to hand over your username and password.  Any time you want to verify any information about an account, go directly to the site. Do NOT trust a link that claims it will take you there.

Confirm your email account

Like the previous account cancellation scam, this is also a phishing lure designed to capture your private information. Again, always go directly to a web site to change email information or passwords. Do not use links that arrive via email.

Pinterest Diablo 3 scam

When the eagerly anticipated PC game Diablo 3 was launched recently, several sites, but particularly Pinterest, were flooded with spam links offering everything from a free version of the new game to tips and secrets for defeating it. Pinterest users were being asked to “pin” content to their board in order to redeem the offers. Instead, the links lead them to unrelated flash games, spam linkdumps, “online key purchasing” websites, and other fraudulent content.

Tumblr dating game scam

A spam run taking place on Tumblr calls itself the “Tumblr Dating Game.”  Members receive spam messages that read: “Lol half of your followers are on”. But the URL in the message took members to a dating website totally unrelated to “Tumblr dating” and instead directed them to an Adult Friend Finder service.

Facebook will start charging members!

Another ruse that makes the rounds on Facebook every now and then is the urgent call for members to take action against impending plans by Facebook ownership to start charging for site use. The news begins to spread via status updates and often even claims “paste this into your status update so you will not be charged. Facebook will continue to be free for you!” But the move is unnecessary. Facebook has said it has no plans to charge members and the gossip is really just an updated version of a chain letter; generally harmless, but still a nuisance.