Facebook is a very popular social platform, which I think everybody is familiar with. Facebook also has a Messenger app for mobile devices to ease chatting through Facebook. The Messenger app is basically the Facebook chat made available for mobile users, it offers an easy way to chat with your Facebook contacts.
As some might know, there are a lot of different scams on Facebook. You might have seen your friends sharing some suspicious looking links to videos with clickbait titles. This is a very common way of spreading links to malicious websites or infecting Facebook accounts and computers with malware. As a social media platform, made for people to share texts, videos, etc. it works when spreading malicious content as well.
Because Facebook is so popular, it is an interesting platform for scammers and hackers to spread their content to as many people as possible. Facebook Messenger is a new addition to this. Before scammers were usually sharing content to other people’s Facebook page, or tagging them to posts. This is usually done with automatically, some page the user visited shared automatically some content on their Facebook page. It is done also with a fake or hacked account, basically, with the same result, the user’s contacts see the post and might fall into clicking it.
The scammers have also started sending private messages through the Messenger app. They first gain access to a Facebook account and then they start sending, for example, videos, or articles to the hacked accounts friends. Now, when you usually receive a video or article with a title that screams you to read it, it is our nature to become interested in it. This is why many people will click the links. Our friend sent it to us and it seemed very interesting, so why not? Often this kind of messages is sent with a few words related to the video, to increase the recipients interested in clicking the link.
Other types of scams are to get money straight away or gather your personal information. Often you can see offers of free money, gift cards, electronics and so on. Nothing is free, trust me. You have to either confirm that you are who you are. Meaning that you have to pay them 1$, which will be refunded. If you pay this, they have your payment information. Sometimes to get the free product or money, you will have to pay a fee for “processing and delivery”. In some cases, you might be forwarded to fill a form. These usually include some questions related to your personal information.
The best way to avoid getting scammed is to not click any links that are sent to you straight away or links that look suspicious. You might receive the message from a person that usually doesn’t share the kind of content. Think always before clicking links that were sent to you. Some links are more suspicious than others, so it might be hard to separate malicious links from normal ones.
If you are not sure, or just concerned that the link or message you received is not legitimate, don’t click the link and contact the person outside the Messenger app. Contact them via some other messaging app, text them or even call and ask if they really shared the video, article or any other content to you. This way you can be sure, that it was actually something they shared themselves. One last thing is to be sure your Facebook contact didn’t accidentally send a link to a site that is malicious, as I have heard this happening as well.
If you are concerned that the account you received the message is a fake profile, report it through Facebook. If you think your own or your friends Facebook account was hacked, visit this Facebook’s page about hacked accounts immediately: www.facebook.com/hacked
Facebook also has a very useful help section, on how to secure your account. I recommend to read it and follow the recommendations they have, it is not too much to ask to secure your online identity on Facebook.