The promise of free money should raise red flags, but what if it comes from a supposed friend?
It starts with a Facebook message.
“You’re contacted by your friend who says, ‘Hey, did you get your $250,000?’ You’re going, ‘What do you mean $250,000?'” said Greg Dunn, CEO, Better Business Bureau Hawaii.
Dunn says the scammer hijacks an account and uses its friend list to send messages, hoping people will respond.
“The next step is they send you a link to a Facebook page and that Facebook page is for a fake organization that is the World Tax and Health Organization of the world federal government, which is all completely farcical,” Dunn explained.
That’s where you’re told to enter your personal information, such as your occupation, date of birth, annual income, and mother’s middle name. Then you’re told you need to pay a $550 fee for the processing of the $250,000 check.
“You may receive then a fake document, a money order, a check for $275,000. You’re thinking, ‘Wow, this is great. I got extra money.’ So you go down to the bank and it’s a money order or a cashier’s check you deposit it at the bank,” Dunn said.
Then you’re told too much money was sent by mistake and you need to send back $25,000. It’s only when the check bounces you realize it was a scam.
Dunn says the scam has been targeting members of non-profit organizations and community groups, and at least one person here in Hawaii reported falling for the scam.
The BBB says be careful when responding to email or social media messages asking for money or personal information, even if it looks like it’s from a friend.
If you’re not sure, call the person on the phone to verify the authenticity of the message, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have a consumer concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.