(Original story at the Straits Times here.)
Scammers’ tactics evolve as people catch on to what they are doing. A few years ago, my coworker’s Facebook account got hacked into and her password was changed. During the time that my friend was locked out of her account, the hacker signed on to the chat feature and asked her Facebook friends — I was one of them — to send money to “her” bank account as she was stuck in London after being robbed and left penniless.
I knew that my coworker wasn’t in London, and I contacted her through AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and asked her what that was about. She then told me that her account was hacked and she was locked out, and that I should not send money to “her.” Fortunately for my coworker, she got the access to her account back after contacting Facebook.
I believe that this particular type of scam is no longer common.
I recently signed up for a savings account at a local bank and opted for online banking. As part of their identity protection feature, the sign-on procedure required me to provide answers to some predetermined and pre-answered security questions, such as the name of my maternal grandfather and my high school mascot.
Guess what? Such information can be garnered from your Facebook profile and from Google searches, particularly if you’re one of those who use it as a means to keep track of the happenings in your life with the timeline feature. Of course, there are other features in place (such as your username and password) to keep your bank account and its contents secure, but those extra security features are rendered useless if the information is available online.
The bad news is this information might be used to scam your friends and relatives, as the following story shows.
Cheat dupes victims by getting personal details from Facebook
Published on Jan 11, 2012
By Fiona Low
Police have arrested a 22-year-old woman who is believed to be involved in at least seven cases of cheating.
Tan Si Ying, Tricia, who is unemployed, operated her scam by pretending to be her victims’ cousin. She would then say she needed money and ask for a loan. Preliminary investigations show that Tan got contact information about her victims through social networking site Facebook. She would trawl through the postings on their page to find out the names of their cousins.
Tan contacted her victims via SMS asking them for a loan urgently. She would also say that she had either lost or changed her handphone number to explain the unfamiliar number she was using, after which she would provide the victims a POSB bank account number for them to transfer the money to.
The seven victims were duped of amounts varying between $500 and $2,000. The victims only realised they had been conned after verifying with their cousins.