PORTLAND, Ore. — The instant communication of Facebook's Messenger app can provide a unique opportunity for enterprising hackers to steal your personal data, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) "Tech Tuesday" segment.
Tens of millions of people in the U.S. have a Facebook account, allowing for free and instant communication at the click of a button. However, overseas scam artists have found a way to capitalize on that convenience.
To illustrate the phenomenon, the FBI's expert shared a personal anecdote:
"A few days ago I was on Facebook Messenger, a texting app that allows Facebook users to communicate with their friends over the internet. I noticed that I had received a message that looked as though it came from a friend of mine. The message included a video link and read: 'Hey I saw this video. Isn’t this you?' I was suspicious, so I didn’t click on the link. The next day he contacted me outside of the app and said that fraudsters had hacked his account and to not click on any of the links that were sent because they contained a computer virus."
Facebook Messenger scams usually involve receiving a message that appears to be from a friend or family member—sent from their actual Facebook account. Fraudsters hope that you will trust a message if it comes from someone you think you know.
Generally, hackers will attach a link to the message and encourage you to click on that link. In the case of the example above, a click on that link would have downloaded a virus to the recipient's computer, allowing the hacker access to private information.
Oftentimes the theft of that personal info will help to perpetuate the scam by giving the hackers information on your contacts as well, making them vulnerable to similar scam solicitations.
In other cases, scammers might send a message claiming that you have qualified for "free money." However, you will find that you have to pay a fee for "processing and delivery" before receiving the promised "cash."
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