BitDefender has revealed the most common Facebook scams of the last two years. The study was conducted on over 850,000 Facebook scams, revealing fascinating but disturbing insights into users’ behaviour. Almost half of Facebook scams rely on the user’s curiosity.
These scams almost always ask for more information about the user, or some sort of action (like/share/comment) – in fact, the messages and content of these scams are the same every time, making you wonder why they aren’t easier to spot. Although the same old scam is being repackaged and used over and over again, users are still falling for the same tricks, otherwise criminals wouldn’t still be using them.
Not surprisingly, users don’t understand the dangers of clicking on malicious links or providing their details online. Trojan horse viruses can be installed on unwitting victims’ computers in order to mine for banking or online passwords, or personal information can be sold and further exploited, to the point of identity theft.
The top five scams are:
1. Guess who viewed your profile? – 45.50%
People are, by nature, curious about what others think of them. When you consider that 90% of Facebook users still check their former partners’ profile pages, it’s no surprise that this scam is the most successful of all.
2. Facebook functionality scams – 29.53%
According to BitDefender, almost one in two Facebook scams involve luring the user into checking out some feature that Facebook doesn’t have. Enticements such as “OMG, this is amazing!” from a Facebook friend is all it takes to generate a flood of clicks on malicious links. Research shows that most people don’t really fully understand Facebook’s functionality, and will therefore be drawn into quick tricks such as this one. An example of such a scam is an attempt to attract users with a (bogus) Facebook ‘dislike button’.
In a world where people are obsessed with their image and online persona, the study reveals that “any additional feature is viewed as a possibility to make one’s image and experience even better. Psychological triggers are easily activated.” Even the most astute of users can be scammed if they don’t fully understand social networks and their features.
3. Giveaway scams – 16.51%
The old adage of ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ seems to have worn thin on social media platforms. I’m always astounded by how gullible people are in this day and age when using Facebook. Do you remember a ‘free car giveaway’ offer on Facebook? This year, there was a Facebook scam where you could win a Mercedes Benz CLA 45 just by liking a (bogus) page, sharing the post, or adding a comment, e.g. what colour you would prefer. Think about it: Why would Mercedes Benz give away a car on their website simply because you ‘liked’ them? Do you think they would spend millions on advertising fees if all they needed to do was give away a car? Last time I checked the (legitimate) Mercedes Benz Facebook page, they were giving away free teddy bears.
4. Celebrity scams – 7.53%
Oh, how we love a celebrity! Fake celebrity sex tapes did the rounds on Facebook this year, purportedly belonging to Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.
5. Atrocity videos – 0.93%
BitDefender claims that a wide range of users fall for Facebook scams due to the vast range of psychological triggers that cyber criminals take advantage of. One of the most disturbing trends is users’ propensity to like and share posts using horrific images, such as maimed animals, suffering children, and tortured women. “The latest example is a malicious video of a girl killed by her husband, that has been infecting users with adware and malware,” says Catalin Cosoi, Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender
According to Cosoi: “Facebook users should count to ten before clicking any button or image promising them sex videos or features the social network doesn’t have. The compulsive social media behaviour of a few users helps scammers maintain a profitable business.”
BitDefender also advises users to keep their systems, antivirus and other software updated, as hackers can exploit vulnerabilities on computers and systems that can cause a lot of damage. Other important advice offered was to avoid completing Facebook surveys and sharing or liking websites to view a video.
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