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20 Facebook scams you should be aware of

It’s been 20 years since Mark Zuckerberg and his roommates launched Facebook. With its gigantic success throughout the years, the platform has attracted billions of users, allowing them to express themselves, share news, celebrate achievements, and forge meaningful connections. However, at the same time, Facebook has also become a perfect place for scammers to exploit unsuspecting users. So in the festive spirit of Facebook’s 20th anniversary, we present 20 Facebook scams that you should keep an eye out for.

20 Facebook scams you should be aware of

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is a Facebook scam?

Facebook scams are schemes that exploit their victims through Facebook posts, chats, and comments or by using the platform’s features (for example, Facebook Marketplace scams). The scams can vary from less harmful fake contests or giveaways (used to generate likes) to more serious schemes, such as spoofing or Facebook account cloning (resulting in identity theft and potential financial loss).

How does a Facebook scam work?

Depending on the tactics used, Facebook scams can operate in various ways. However, the key similarity in all cases is that every type of Facebook scam requires engagement from the user. Scammers may ask victims to transfer money, click on a link, or complete a survey. In all these cases, users may have to provide sensitive information (such as bank account data, date of birth, email address, or even Facebook account password) that hackers can then steal and sell on the dark web.

To add credibility to their claims, scammers can try to trick their victims by using fake accounts to impersonate the victim’s friends, legitimate organizations, or even celebrities.

The 20 latest Facebook scams

From donation scams to “Is this you in this video?” schemes, Facebook is full of cyber threats. With billions of users surfing the platform daily, it makes a perfect hunting ground for scammers and malicious actors.

1. Donation scams

Donation scams (also known as fundraiser scams) often rise in prevalence after a major disaster. In these scams, malicious actors invite people to donate to a charitable cause, typically to support victims of natural disasters or other tragedies, only to take the donations themselves. In addition, scammers can use fake website scams to create duplicate websites and charity pages (such as fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns) and trick people into donating.

You should research the charity organizers and managing organizations to protect yourself from the Facebook donation scheme. If they seem suspicious, have low or nonexistent reviews, and offer non-traditional payment methods (for example, cryptocurrency or gift coupons), refrain from donating money.

2. Clickbait scams

Clickbait is one of the most popular social engineering techniques, widely used by both scammers and legitimate businesses (news agencies and online vendors). Facebook clickbait scams rely on users’ curiosity by luring the victims with scandalous and peculiar headlines.

Clickbait facebook post

Clickbait Facebook scam posts often invite users to uncover various “secrets” (ranging from government conspiracy theories to skincare routines). These headlines encourage users to “uncover the secret” by following the links attached to clickbait posts. If a victim falls for the ruse and clicks a suspicious link, the result can lead to a data breach, identity theft, and other cyber threats.

To safeguard yourself against clickbait scams, carefully review posts with outrageous claims and double-check the info via trusted sources (news outlets or online databases). If you notice a suspicious link, you can always test its security via a link checker.

3. Giveaway scams

Everyone likes a good old giveaway, including scammers. Facebook giveaway scams target people individually, with scammers usually contacting potential victims through personal messages. Hackers often disguise themselves (for example, by using a fake Facebook page), claiming to represent familiar companies, legitimate businesses, or even state lotteries. The imposters invite people to giveaways, offering free money, merchandise, and other goodies.

However, as the old saying goes, the only free cheese is in the mousetrap. The victims of the giveaway scams are often asked to provide personal data (for example, credit card numbers or banking details) as a means to “claim” the prize. In some cases, the schemers may even pressure victims into paying fake fees or taxes before “winners” can claim their prize. Complying with these requests exposes your data to malicious actors.

Protecting yourself from giveaway scams requires vigilance and a level head. If you get an invite to participate in a giveaway, always make sure that a Facebook-verified brand profile is organizing it. In addition, if you’re asked to transfer money to receive your prize, back out of it — 99% of the time, it’s a scam.

4. Marketplace scams

While Facebook Marketplace is a great way for people to sell, rent, and exchange items, it’s also a popular hunting ground for schemers looking to make quick and easy money. According to experts, you can be scammed at least fourteen ways on Facebook Marketplace, ranging from bad actors selling broken items or using Google Voice to trick users.

Some marketplace scams may only slightly affect your wallet, while others, on the other hand, can cause significant problems, such as compromised accounts, a stolen identity, or reputational damage. It’s important to mention that the threats are not limited to buyers only. Sellers, too, can get scammed if they’re not careful.

Marketplace scam prevention revolves around carefully reviewing the buyers and sellers and their information. Users should also watch out for underpriced luxury items and Google Voice and personal information requests, which are the most likely signs of a potential scam.

5. Cloned accounts

It’s easier to trust your friends than strangers. That’s why scammers sometimes pose as your Facebook friends to try and convince you to give away your personal data. To pull off such a masquerade, schemers clone every detail of the friend’s account (including the posts on the Facebook wall) to look as convincing as possible. Then they slide into your DMs to ask for help through wire transfers, account recovery code requests, or encouragement to follow malicious links.

The first red flag for a cloned account is a friend request from someone already on your friend list (most people tend to remember accepting friend invitations from certain accounts). If a “friend” suddenly writes to you out of the blue, requesting help, that may be another sign of a potential scam (especially if it’s been a while since your last chat or if the friend’s writing manner seems different than usual).

When it comes to cloned account scam prevention, double-checking is the key. If you’re suspicious of someone using a cloned account, contact the person to verify their identity (for example, via a call). If your suspicions turn out to be correct, report the fake profile to Facebook, and be sure to warn your other friends.

6. Fake prizes and giveaways

Like giveaway scams, fake giveaways exploit people’s love of free things. However, the key difference between giveaway scams and fake Facebook giveaways is that the latter usually has minor consequences. Since fake giveaways focus on generating reach and likes, the main downside of falling victim to them is wasted time liking or sharing fake content.

Navigating suspicious giveaways cautiously and double-checking the posts offering free prizes can help you avoid falling victim to fake giveaways and giveaway scams on Facebook.

7. Fake job offers

It’s nice to receive job offers. However, it’s suspicious to receive them on Facebook, especially when you haven’t applied anywhere. While it’s not unusual for some recruiters to contact potential candidates via Facebook, scammers may sometimes use this method to lure their victims into providing sensitive information (such as a Social Security number).

Fake job offers can often result in identity theft, online security breaches, and loss of online accounts. To recognize a fake job offer, you should carefully evaluate whether the recruiter works at the company and what types of perks and salary they offer. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

Finally, if the recruiter pressures you to respond as quickly as possible or requests money, pull out of the “recruitment” immediately and report the account to Facebook.

8. Fake medical fundraisers

Fake medical fundraisers, like donation scams, exploit people’s benevolence. Scammers may use fake GoFundMe campaigns (asking for funds to treat a medical emergency) and post them on Facebook to raise sympathy and inspire users to donate money (usually through third-party apps like Venmo or Cash App).

9. Quiz scams

Finding out what type of pancake you would be, based on your answers to random silly questions, can be fun. Knowing that scammers might use Facebook quizzes to extract personal information (such as your mother’s maiden name, pets’ names, and other security-related questions) should make you think again about taking quizzes on Facebook

Users may be caught off guard and inadvertently disclose sensitive information, leading to security bypasses, account takeovers, and identity theft. Therefore, it’s better not to indulge in online quizzes, especially those that ask weirdly specific questions about your personal information.

10. Spoofing attacks

Facebook spoofing can occur when hackers access your friend’s email and Facebook password. They can then use them to log in to a friend’s account to send malicious links, request funds, and otherwise threaten your online accounts.

While Facebook’s two-factor authentication (2FA) and other security measures (such as encrypted messages) make this scam less common, you should keep your guard up. The scammers can also pretend to be celebrities and well-known organizations looking to offer you “personal deals” and “free gifts” in the form of suspicious-looking links and money requests.

11. Fake coupon codes

As you may have noticed, most common Facebook scams involve offering fake things to people. Along with fake job offers and giveaways, offering fake coupons is a common way to try to scam people. Schemers may contact you with links to “free coupon codes” for mainstream services (popular streaming platforms, online vendors, or luxury items) or post in online groups offering fake coupons to the group’s members.

The danger of fake coupon scams can vary from malware and viruses hidden in malicious links to funds stolen when the user provides credit card information to redeem coupon codes. To protect yourself from fake coupon scams, you should carefully evaluate the offers you receive and trust only those from official companies. It’s also useful to remember that trusted providers will never ask for your credit card info to provide you with coupon codes.

12. Facebook Messenger scams

Messenger is one of the main gateways through which scammers get access to their victims. Malicious actors can pretend to be long-lost friends, organization representatives, or even friends of your relatives. Through Messenger, scammers can try to entangle you in various fraudulent schemes, including fake fundraisers, job offer scams, and malware attacks.

Fake Facebook chat

13. Malware attacks

Malicious actors can spread malware and hijack accounts through phishing links, quiz scams, fake coupon codes, and other Facebook scams. Typically, Facebook malware attacks can include ransomware, spyware, trojan attacks, and worms, resulting in data theft, privacy invasion, or even system damage. Avoiding shady links and reporting phishing scams are two key steps in combating malware attacks on Facebook.Phishing link disguised as facebook notification

14. Romance scams

Some of the most painful experiences in life include broken trust and a broken heart. These two can sometimes coincide, especially on Facebook, where scammers may pretend to foster romantic feelings for their victims to steal money.

Typically, romance scams (sometimes known as online dating scams) happen over the course of weeks or months because scammers first must establish trust between themselves and the victims. To achieve that, malicious actors create fake profiles with attractive (fake) pictures and charming messages.

Fake facebook profile

Once the romantic sparks begin flying between the scammer and the victim, the scammer makes their move. Scammers often ask their “love interests” to provide them money (for example, as a means to come to visit their “beloved”) and disappear upon receiving it. Statistics show that 24% of Americans have been targeted by romance scams, making it one of the most prevalent types of online fraud.

15. Puppy scams

Some scammers can surely put on puppy eyes when coaxing their victims, especially when trying to sell puppies and other animals that don’t exist or aren’t for sale. The puppy scam is yet another schemer tactic that falls in the category of Facebook Marketplace scam. The scheme uses fake posts to dupe animal lovers into buying puppies (or kittens or guinea pigs).

Scammers often post cute puppy pictures, claiming they sell them to anyone wanting to buy. They can even try to pull on your heartstrings by lying about getting rid of the puppies if no one buys them. If a person falls for this manipulation, the schemers ask their target to wire the money before transporting the animal and disappear as soon as the money changes hands.

To protect yourself from puppy scammers, you should remember that legitimate breeders often provide thorough information about the animals: their breed, sex, age, vaccination records, and details about their parents. In addition, when dealing with regular breeders, you are unlikely to experience a sense of urgency, advance payment requests, and limited opportunities to see the animal in person before making your purchase.

16. Ticket scams

Did you miss the chance to grab a ticket to your favorite artist’s concert? That’s a shame, indeed. However, don’t celebrate too early if you find one for sale on Facebook, because it might be a ticket scam, especially if the ticket is much cheaper than its original price.

To avoid getting scammed, you should always carefully evaluate the price and legitimacy of the vendor. Moreover, if the seller asks you to transfer money via third-party apps (CashApp, Venmo, or similar), ask them to use a different payment method. If they refuse (or offer some excuse), back out of the deal because it is most likely a scam.

17. Broken item sale scams

You can find tons of cheap and useful goods on Facebook Marketplace. However, while shopping, be wary of listings that may be offering fraudulent items (such as faulty electronics or physically damaged objects) while presenting them as new or in good condition.

Contacting the seller for more info about the items (for example, asking for more pictures or purchase receipts) can help you verify the authenticity of the seller and their items. In addition, if you have the opportunity, consider evaluating the items in person before buying.

18. Rental scams

According to experts, phony rentals are common in Facebook Marketplace. Scammers often use fake or misleading pictures, post properties others own, and even employ bait-and-switch rental prices.

Protecting yourself from rental scams involves researching the rental posting. Most reliable listings include the address, the owner’s information, and thorough descriptions. In addition, when considering long-term rent, the opportunity to tour the place in person is a must. If you are not allowed to do so, it’s likely because it’s a scam.

19. Paypal/Cash App scams

Paypal and Cash App scams include numerous schemes, from smishing to cash flipping. However, in the context of Facebook scams, these money transfer apps are often used as third-party apps rather than the main means for committing fraud.

Paypal, Venmo, Cash App, and similar apps allow safe and secure money transfers. However, when dealing with malicious actors, these apps can cause trouble. The money becomes hard or impossible to retrieve once you send it via Cash App, Paypal, Venmo, and other third-party services. Although Cash App offers some security measures that can detect scams, the app’s developers still insist on users being vigilant and transferring money only to individuals they know and trust.

If you’ve been using Facebook for a while, there’s a high chance you might have encountered messages with the text “Is this you?” or “Is this you in this video?” accompanied by a suspicious-looking link. If you refused to click on the link and ignored the message, congratulations – you’ve successfully avoided the so-called “Is this you in this video?” scam.

These scams are good (well, technically, bad) old phishing scams, with links leading to viruses or malware downloads. Clicking on the links can cause damage, such as data breaches, identity theft, and trojans. In some cases, upon clicking, the link can automatically forward to all (or some) of your Facebook friends, further escalating the scam.

What to do if you get scammed on Facebook

If you notice the signs of Facebook being hacked, the first and most crucial thing to do is change your password to regain control of your account. After that, you can take additional steps to secure your identity and devices.

  • Report scammers. Upon receiving a report, Facebook may restrict the scammer’s account, hampering their exploits, and possibly preventing some users from getting scammed.
  • Freeze your credit cards. Freezing credit card activity can be beneficial if you have reasonable evidence to suggest that scammers stole your credit card data. Doing so can help you prevent money loss and potential identity theft.
  • File an identity theft report. Like credit card freezing, this step is usually recommended when you suspect a possible data breach (for example, after you experience a phishing attack or receive notifications of suspicious bank account activity). If you’re a US citizen, filing an identity theft report through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can help protect your financial assets and limit potential losses. If you’re outside the US, consider contacting local law enforcement agencies for further assistance on possible identity theft reports.
  • Scan and clean your device. Some scams exist solely to infect your devices with viruses and other malware. If you’ve been scammed on Facebook, scan your device and remove anything that looks like a threat.

Tips to protect yourself from scams on Facebook

Thet internet trend known as “Everything is cake” can be taken as a great example that on the internet, everything is fake. While such a claim is a strong exaggeration, treating Facebook posts with this credo in mind can help you protect yourself from potential scams. Along with staying vigilant, you can take additional precautions to limit the risk of becoming a Facebook scam victim.

  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). If you haven’t done so, set up 2FA on your Facebook account. It’s one of the best safeguards available.
  • Use strong passwords. Using strong and unique passwords will reduce the chance of getting your Facebook account compromised by malicious actors.
  • Adjust your online privacy settings. Tightening your account’s privacy settings can help you avoid scam posts, adding to your online safety.
  • Periodically check your activity logs. Sometimes, scammers may overtake your account without you ever noticing. Checking login and activity logs can help you spot suspicious activity and take action.
  • Use Facebook’s “Security Checkup” tool. It’s a great tool to quickly evaluate your Facebook account’s safety and set up additional security measures.
  • Avoid clicking suspicious links. If you are unsure about the link’s safety, check it with an online link checker.
  • Decline friend requests from unknown people. If the person’s profile looks suspicious (for example, it has no pictures, no mutual friends, or only very recent posts), don’t risk it and decline the invite.
  • Use a VPN. Using NordVPN and its Threat Protection Pro feature can significantly improve your online safety. It blocks malicious links and scans files as you download them for malware, reducing the chance of falling for Facebook scams.