Friday, January 07, 2011

Facebook Scammers: You (Kicked/Ran Over/Injured) My Dog!

And now for something entirely different.

A Pakistani woman called my wife tonight from a restricted number, accusing her of kicking her dog and demanding that we pay the vet bill for surgery. She insisted that she had a witness, followed my wife back to our house, and looked up her phone number online. The woman refused to give a name or number, or say where the dog-kicking actually occurred. Before my wife hung up on her, she said she had called the police.

My wife contacted the police department, and they let us know that no one had contacted them about my wife at all.

My wife hasn't been out of the house all week! The odd thing about it was that the woman gave a description of my wife and knew we had two kids.

My wife then got on Facebook to talk to her friends and family about it, and it turns out that a friend in another state received the same type of call, accusing her of running over their dog.

The pieces began to fit together: Facebook now forces people's profile pictures to be public. That is how the scammer knows what you look like. Second, Facebook only allows you to restrict the display of your phone number down to "Only Friends," so the scammer will access your phone number through a friend's hacked account, unless they have already hacked your own.

If you receive this type of call, now you know what's going on. To be safe, replace your profile picture with something else that isn't a picture of you or anyone you care about, and isn't a picture of somewhere that would tell your location. Also, remove your phone number or put in a fake number. Unfortunately, this last suggestion disables the ability to send and receive Facebook content via SMS.

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