With the great opportunities that the Internet gives us, there are also great risks, especially when using sites like Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. Because you can’t actually see who is sending you messages, it’s easy to be duped by someone claiming to be a friend of yours, when all they’re really after is your money.
This happened to Grace Parry from Missouri, USA. A hacker gained access to her Facebook account (we say hacker, but the password was probably ‘password’) and sent out messages to all of her friends claiming that she was stranded in England and needed money to get home.
One of Ms Parry’s friends (who has not been named) leapt into action and offered to send £2,500 via wire transfer, as you would, without even speaking to her friend in person. She did receive a call from an ‘immigration official’ from England confirming
the story though…
Jason Selzer , a police spokesperson, added:
He said the woman (Parry) and her husband were being detained and that more money was needed to fly them home. She sent three different wire transfers to London.
In order to warn her friends of the fake messages that were being sent out, Ms Perry’s husband posted messages of his own to his account. Though obviously, unless they shared the same friends, not everyone would have seen the warnings.
This is the time when old fashioned communiqué would have been better than the Internet.
The money has been lost and the ‘British’ person responsible has not been caught. Jason Selzer advises people to regularly change their passwords online to guard against this, but not choosing an easy to guess one would also work in this instance.
Also, don’t wire £2,500 to the other side of the world based on a message on Facebook!