Nothing inspires scammers like the headlines. Con artists are always finding ways to cash in on breaking trends. This week, watch out for teasers on social media promoting fake ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos.
How the Scam Works:
You are on Facebook, and a news item catches your attention. It appears to be a teaser for a shocking video. “Tragic: Ice Bucket Challenge kills girl,” reads the headline.
You click the link, thinking it leads to a video site. Instead, a pop up appears prompting you to “update your video player.” But when you click “OK,” you aren’t getting a new version of some software. You are really downloading malware.
Like all scams, this has many variations. Not all fake videos lead to viruses. Some link to spammy websites, which may prompt you to take a survey before viewing the video. In the worst case, sharing your information can open you up to identity theft. More likely, your information will end up getting sold to spammers.
This scam is also not limited to Facebook. Watch out for similar links posted on Twitter, through other social media or sent by email.
Tips to Protect Yourself From “Click Bait” Scams:
Take the following steps to protect yourself and others from scam links shared through email and social media:
- Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.
- Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
- Don’t trust your friends’ taste online. It might not actually be them “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked. But it may also be clickjacking, a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking something that you wouldn’t otherwise (especially the Facebook “Like” button).
- On Facebook, report scam posts and other suspicious activity by following these instructions.
- On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, report it to Twitter by following these instructions.
For More Information
Check out the Detroit Free Press’s article on ice bucket challenge scams, featuring an interview with the Better Business Bureau of Detroit and Eastern Michigan.
To find out more about scams or report one, check out BBB Scam Stopper.