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Facebook scams are on the rise, new report says

An illustration picture shows a woman looking at the Facebook website on a computer in Munich February 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is the latest chime in with a recent warning of scammers who use Facebook Messenger to trick victims.

In the Scam Tracker alert, the BBB said it has “received dozens of reports about the crooks to make use of Facebook Messenger to promote fake grants.

The key to the scam is the apparent familiarity of the sender: a friend, family or relative.

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The scammers often do two things, according to the BBB. They will hack your account, or create a “lookalike profile” by stealing your photos and personal information.

“Either way, scammers are banking that you trust a message that seems to come from someone you know,” the BBB said.

Following In the footsteps of the BBB alert, this week, Beth Anne Steele with the FBI’s Portland office, wrote about a personal experience with Facebook messenger.

In her post, Steele said she got a message that looked like it came from a friend. The message included a video link read: “Hey, I saw this video. Is this not with you?” She wanted to do not click on the link, but was contacted the next day by the friend who said that the scammers had hacked his account, and that the link is a virus.

There are variations on this friends-and-family scams on Twitter and other social networks. On Twitter, for example, a scammer, you can send a tweet allegedly from a person who follows you, and uses phrases such as “someone is saying bad things about you” or “someone is spreading rumors about you.”

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“Scammers use two rules of thumb in order to lure victims. The first is to gain the confidence of their audience using credible…a friend, an authority figure, or an organization that the victim is likely to trust. The second rule of thumb scammers use is to create a sense of urgency; they want you to act now,” James Lerud, head of the behavioral research team of cybersecurity company Verodin, told Fox News.

Facebook said it has made progress in the fight against scams.

“We have a number of recent improvements to the control of imitation and scams, including a better reporting capabilities and the release of a new feature that allows people with more context to someone they may not have previously connected with in the Messenger,” a Facebook spokesman told Fox News.

For example, when you receive a message on Messenger from someone you have not communicated with previously, you will see a contextual clues regarding whether the account was newly created or the person is using Messenger without a Facebook account.

If Facebook users see suspicious activity they should report problems to Facebook by clicking here. The social network also offers tips on how to stay safe on Messenger.

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