Criminals are everywhere, even on Facebook. I’m usually not the type of person to engage in fear-mongering, but I think we can all agree this statement is rather obvious. Nearly every day I see Facebook spam links and even dodgy advertisements showing up in my newsfeed.

More recently, I spotted an advertisement claiming to be from Mt Gox, a bitcoin money exchange, offering free bitcoins to people who click on the ad and then logged into the website.

Of course, this Facebook scam was a complete fraud. Anyone who entered their login details was simply giving the scammer easy access to their real Mt Gox account where the criminal could send money to themselves.

A similar scam is perpetrated for the big banks too, where the criminal will try to steal you bank login details. The website looks almost exactly the same, but the real give-away is the URL website address. It might be similar to your banks, but not exactly the same.

It’s very important to be aware of such Facebook scams and never blindly trust links and ads you find on social networks.

Facebook Spam Detection Is Not Perfect

Facebook spam

Source: Flickr

Despite the hard work and efforts by Facebook to minimize spam, through the use of algorithms, advertising on the other hand is given more leniency. It’s only when a user reports the ad that a Facebook team-member may look at it to determine whether it’s a scam or legitimate.

"Protecting the people who use Facebook is a top priority for us, and we have developed a number of automated systems to identify potentially harmful links and stop them from spreading. Those systems quickly spotted these links."Facebook

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Facebook spam continues to represent a lucrative opportunity to scammers who post links on Facebook pages. The links are sometimes shared by your own friends who have fallen for the trick.

These types of Facebook spam links direct users to third-party scam sites which have little more than advertising or simply trick you into re-sharing the same link to your friends.

A common example of these sites entices victims with a link to a video with a catchy title like “Oh my god, did she really do this?!”.

When you click through to watch, you’re presented with what looks like a video and a ‘play’ button surrounded by advertising. When you click on the ‘play’ button, it’s actually a clever hack that posts the website link on your Facebook wall.

Where is the scammer’s benefit, you may ask? Well, it’s the advertising.

Scammers are earning about $200 million per year for these kind of tricks and Google is indirectly benefiting. An estimated 10% of the spam pages use Google AdSense to deliver the advertising, essentially giving Google a cut of the scammer’s efforts.

Facebook Scams Encourage Malicious Downloads

A similar scam pulled in August 2013 affected over 800,000 Facebook users. The post looks like a video sent by a friend and when clicked on, takes you to a website that says you need to download a plug-in to watch the video.

Don’t do it! Never download unknown software or browser extensions.

The download gives the scammers access to ALL your saved browser passwords, often including Gmail, Facebook and Twitter, etc.

A scammer can then use your other social media accounts to spread the Facebook spam links even further, roping in your friends. Not to mention all the other kind of damage they could do with your personal details.

These spam links spread quickly, with 40,000 new cases detected per hour.

As scammers grow more sophisticated in gathering user’s personal information, it’s very important to presume that anything sent to you may be spam, even coming from your friends (their account may have been hacked).

Have you ever fallen for Facebook spam links?

Tags:  facebook scamsfacebook spamphishing

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