SCAM ALERT: Theodore residents a target for social security scam

Beware of telephone scams (Image: WALA-TV)

If you are on Facebook, watch out for scams using Messenger. In the past month, Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker has received dozens of reports about con artists using Facebook Messenger to promote phony grants.

Here's how the scam worksYou get a Facebook Messenger chat that looks like it came from a friend or relative. Scammers will either hack an account or create a separate lookalike profile by stealing photos and personal information. Either way, scammers are banking that you will trust a message that seems to come from someone you know.

The scammer pretends to be a friend or family member - sends you a message about qualifying for "free money" from the government or some other organization. The catch is that you need to pay upfront first. The con artist claims the doh is for "delivery" or "processing" fees.

The BBB says it's a scam that's already worked on some people, including a woman in the Mobile area. FOX10 News Anchor Lenise Ligon received an email from the BBB about a Mobile woman named Katherine who was apparently duped out of $950 from some dude claiming to be her uncle.

She says She says she the fake relative messaged her about the good news, that $90,000 was being distributed to the disabled and unemployed from Mark Zuckerburg on FB. All she had to do was send $200 shipment fee + $350 insurance + $400 taxation fee = $950 total. She bought $950 in iTunes cards and sent pictures of the codes. But when the scammer then asked for $6500 for Homeland Security, she knew something was up.

When Katherine asked for her money back, the BBB says she was told to fill out a form that would cost $500. At this point, she just just wants other people to know so they don't make the same mistakes.

Other versions of this scam trick you into parting with personal information instead of money. These cons ask you to complete an application form that requires personal information, such as your address and Social Security number.

How to spot this scam: Be wary of your friends' tastes online: Your friend or family member may have impeccable judgment in real-life. But email messages, social posts, and Facebook Messenger chats could be from a hacked or impersonated account. Report scam accounts and messages to Facebook: Alert Facebook to fake profiles, compromised accounts, and spam messages by reporting them.

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