NATIONAL NEWS - Two residents of Krugersdorp want to warn their community and everyone else to be on the lookout for Facebook scams.
These two women, Veronica Rei and Maike Vermaak, were drawn into a Facebook scam that left Maike out of R2 000, and Veronica having to explain to friends.
It all started about two weeks ago, when Veronica, who is an estate agent, was on her way to meet with a client.
She and the colleague continued their conversation without discussing the strange question any further and eventually Veronica moved on to her meeting with her client.
When she came back from her meeting, another friend phoned her, and told her about a strange message she had received from Veronica on Facebook Messenger.
Her friend explained that it was a normal message saying ‘Hoe gaan dit’ (How are you). She further explained that after chatting to ‘Veronica’, the conversation quickly turned into ‘Veronica’ asking her for money.
“I went on to my Facebook Messenger and took a look but saw nothing, so I asked my friend to send me the details,” said Veronica.
Her friend could see the account had been opened in the United States and that the user was using the app without Facebook.
“I asked her to report it and immediately sent out a message telling everyone that my Facebook Messenger had been cloned,” said Veronica.
In the meantime, at about 16:00 on the same day, Maike and her husband were at home when she too received the message from ‘Veronica’.
“It said, ‘Hoe gaan dit’, and I thought she was joking, because she knows I don’t understand the language,” explained Maike.
So she replied, saying all was well and then talking about the weather. After a while, another message came through, asking for help with money.
“I thought it was a weird question, but the message said it would only be until the Friday, and it would be R2 000,” she said.
She spoke to her husband, who told her to tell ‘Veronica’ to come and collect the money, but the person on the other side said it would be easier and quicker to just do an e-wallet transfer.
The couple then sent the money to the number and afterwards received a message saying ‘Thank you so much, I really appreciate it, my regards to your husband’.
The scammers even knew Maike’s husband’s name. She explained that she did not phone Veronica because the conversation felt so natural. She also thought that if Veronica had to come to her to borrow money, it had to be a real emergency.
“I thought it was embarrassing enough for her to ask me for help and did not want to put her in a situation where she would feel even more embarrassed about the whole thing,” explained Maike, “so I kept quiet.”
At 3am the next morning, Maike was getting up for water when she saw another message. This time it really was from Veronica and it was telling her that Veronica’s Facebook Messenger had been cloned.
Maike said that she has been to the bank to try to get her money back. However, she was informed that e-wallet transfers are immediate and cannot be reversed. Furthermore, the bank does not take responsibility for the mistake.
The two women want to warn the community to be vigilant and be aware of scams like these and how easily someone can be fooled.
Facebook has ten tips for making sure your account is secure:
* Protect your password. Don’t use your Facebook password anywhere else online, and never share it with other people.
* Never share your login information. Scammers may create fake websites that look like Facebook and ask you to login with your email and password.
*Always check the website’s URL before you enter your login information. When in doubt, type www.facebook.com into your browser to get to Facebook.
* Don’t forward emails from Facebook to other people, since they may contain sensitive information about your account.
* Log out of Facebook properly if you share a computer with other people. If you forget, you can log out remotely.
* Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Scammers may create fake accounts to friend people. Becoming friends with scammers might allow them to spam your timeline, tag you in posts and send you malicious messages.
* Watch out for malicious software. Malicious software can cause damage to a computer, server or computer network.
* Never click on suspicious-looking links, even if they appear to come from a friend or a company you know. This includes links on Facebook (for example, on posts) or in emails. Keep in mind that Facebook will never ask you for your password in an email.
* Use extra security options offered by Facebook. You can get alerts about unrecognised logins, set up two-factor authentication, or choose friends to be your trusted contacts.
* If you’re logged into Facebook on a computer, you can use Security Checkup to review your security settings.