Malaysia Airlines Facebook Scam
and Other Alerts
FIRST: You are on Facebook, and a post catches your attention. It appears to be from the account of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victim, and the post seems to link to information about the tragedy. You click the link, thinking it leads to a news website. But instead of news, you get a barrage of spam ads for online gambling and other similar products.
Scammers love to take advantage of the hype surrounding major news stories -- especially tragedies. In addition to impersonating victims or family members on Facebook, con artists also post teasers for "sensational" video footage relating to the event. Click the link, and you may be prompted to "update your video player" (scam-speak for download malware) or take a survey before viewing. Doing either of these can open you up to identity theft or give scammers information (such as email addresses and cell phone numbers) they can sell to spammers.
Scammers also post sensational or emotional content as a way of collecting "likes" on a Facebook account. After enough "likes" and comments, they can turn around and sell the account for a profit.
*** 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. Wait for it to appear in "real" news sites.
*** 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. 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).
NEXT: CLASS ACTION. Coyle Funeral Home just received a fax reporting that a settlement has been reached in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action lawsuit against the mortgage company Matrix LS Inc. Entitled CE Design Ltd. V. Matrix LS Inc., the lawsuit alleged that Matrix violated the TCPA by faxing advertisements to people without their prior express invitation or permission. Eligible class members include all persons who, on or after June 22, 2004, were sent a facsimile message containing material advertising the commercial availability of any property, goods or services on behalf of Matrix. The settlement has yet to receive final court approval, however, if granted, eligible class members may receive up to $500 for each advertising fax they received.
NEXT: TIMESHARE RESELLERS. The FTC is cracking down on scam timeshare resellers. These are firms charged with luring consumers into paying hefty up-front fees, falsely claiming they had prospective buyers for properties they wanted to sell. In one recent case, Universal Timeshare (Florida) claimed they had buyers who would pay for consumers' timeshare properties, or that the defendants would quickly sell those timeshares, and charged consumers up to $2,200 in connection with the promised sale. The promises were all lies. Sheldon Lee Cohen, who operates a telemarketing business in the Dominican Republic, was the mastermind behind this scam. Timeshare owners should avoid anyone who wants money up front and claims they have a buyer ready and waiting.
ALSO Avoid scams that promise to recover money you've lost in a timeshare resell scam!
FINALLY: Deceptive Messages Promised "Free" Gift Cards for Consumers A text message spammer has been prosecuted for sending millions of unwanted text messages to consumers across the country, which contained false promises of "free" $1,000 gift cards for major retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Rishab Verma and his company, Verma Holdings, LLC, will be permanently banned from sending unwanted or unsolicited commercial text messages or assisting others in doing so. It will be prohibited from misrepresenting to consumers that a product is "free," that they have won a prize or been selected for a gift, or that consumers' personal information is needed to send free merchandise. BBB received many calls from consumers asking if they could believe these messages, and we did a number of media alerts warning folks not to believe promises of "free gift cards."
My big concern is that criminals like this now have the ability to send messages by text, rather than just plain emails.
Dick Eppstein, BBB