Men fall for Social Media Scams

Keep a close eye on your passwords and account numbers, men. That hot chick on the screen just might be a man waiting to drain your bank account.  Men are more likely to fall for such scams. We’re wired to be social creatures, and sites like Twitter and Facebook have capitalized on this to great success. According to its COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook draws 175 million logins every day.

We’ve often heard the saying that men are more visual than women. That just might land them in hot water. A recent study commissioned by anti-virus software company Bitdefender reveals that males are more likely to fall for Facebook scams, especially if the predator is a sexy female. 

The scams you’ll come across most often on social networking sites are related to identity theft. Users provide a great deal of information about themselves when they create their profile, which makes social networks so attractive to scammers who are looking to access someone else’s information for illegal purposes.

Phishing is also something to be aware of on social networking sites. Look out for:

Messages posted on walls or in the newsfeed that look like they’re from companies you trust (often one you recognize or a financial institution).

A quiz or survey that can end up charging you or infecting your computer with a virus.

An imposter posing as one of your friends to get you to send money because they’re in trouble.

The objective is to try to scam you into providing information, like your username and password, so they can gain access to your personal information.

The company surveyed a group 1,649 men and women in the U.S. and U.K. The subjects had adequate knowledge of online security.

According to the findings, 64.2 percent of women rejected Facebook friend requests compared to 55.4 percent of men. When an attractive woman’s photo was associated with the profile, men were more likely to accept friend requests. There was not a noticeable difference for the women.

About 24.5 percent of men allow their profiles to be searchable by strangers, compared to only 16 percent of women. Men are also less likely to protect their location, with 25.6 percent willing to share their whereabouts, in contrast to 21.8 percent of women.

“Men expose themselves to risks more than women, especially when accepting friendship from unknown persons,” said Bitdefender social media security product manager George Petre.

The findings aren’t all that surprising, if you think of it from a cultural perspective. Women are raised to fear men more than the flipped scenario. When it comes to online security threats, however, all is fair in bytes and pixels.

Some of the newest twists on scams are coming straight out of the movies. Virtual kidnapping is not a new scam; however, this new twist will have you thinking it’s real.

The scheme now starts by the scammer spoofing the supposed kidnapped phone number, alluding that the incoming call is actually from a loved one. Since the number is familiar, the victim picks up the phone and immediately hears demands coming from the other end of the phone.

The scammer claims they have the loved one that contacted you and that they are going to kill them unless a ransom is paid. The scammer then informs the victim that they are not to hang up the phone to contact the ‘kidnapped’ and to head to the nearest store that sells MoneyGrams.

In actuality, they don’t have your loved one and they’re probably not anywhere near them. Virtual kidnappers use stolen contact lists and troll the internet to find personal contact information about you and your family through social media and online search tools.

To bust the scam, the FBI recommends quickly reaching out to your loved one who’s allegedly been kidnapped to see if you can verify they are safe. If possible, stay on the line with the caller while quietly asking someone else to call the alleged kidnap victim. If no one else is available to make that call, discreetly text the victim. Once verifying their safety, hang up with the caller.

If you are not able to contact the alleged kidnapping victim, the FBI says you should request “proof of life” and “proof of possession” that could verify the caller is telling the truth. If the call is a hoax, the caller will resist all attempts to provide this type of proof.

The scammer’s main goal is to prey on your sense of urgency and create an enormous amount of stress to get you to act without thinking, “Does this make sense?”. The most important tip, if you receive a virtual kidnapping call, is to remain calm.

Here are top 5 types of Social Networking Scams:

1. Hidden URLs

Beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs. You’ll see them everywhere on Twitter, but you never know where you’re going to go since the URL (“Uniform Resource Locator,” the Web address) hides the full location. Clicking on such a link could direct you to your intended site, or one that installs all sorts of malware on your computer.

URL shorteners can be quite useful. Just be aware of their potential pitfalls and make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.

Bottom line: Sites that attract a significant number of visitors are going to lure in a criminal element, too. If you take security precautions ahead of time, such as using antivirus and anti-spyware protection, you can defend yourself against these dangers and surf with confidence.

2. Phishing Requests

“Somebody just put up these pictures of you drunk at this wild party! Check ’em out here!” Huh? Let me see that! Immediately, you click on the enclosed link, which takes you to your Twitter or Facebook login page. There, you enter your account info — and a cybercriminal now has your password, along with total control of your account.

How did this happen? Both the email and landing page were fake. That link you clicked took you to a page that only looked like your intended social site. It’s called phishing, and you’ve just been had. To prevent this, make sure your Internet security includes antiphishing defenses. Many freeware programs don’t include this essential protection.

3. Hidden Charges

“What type of STAR WARS character are you? Find out with our quiz! All of your friends have taken it!” Hmm, this sounds interesting, so you enter your info and cell number, as instructed. After a few minutes, a text turns up. It turns out you’re more Yoda than Darth Vader. Well, that’s interesting … but not as much as your next month’s cell bill will be.

You’ve also just unwittingly subscribed to some dubious service that charges $9.95 every month.

As it turns out, that “free, fun service” is neither. Be wary of these bait-and-switch games. They tend to thrive on social sites.

4. Cash Grabs

By their very nature, social media sites make it easy for us to stay in touch with friends, while reaching out to meet new ones. But how well do you really know these new acquaintances? That person with the attractive profile picture who just friended you — and suddenly needs money — is probably some cybercriminal looking for easy cash. Think twice before acting. In fact, the same advice applies even if you know the person.

Picture this: You just received an urgent request from one of your real friends who “lost his wallet on vacation and needs some cash to get home.” So, being the helpful person you are, you send some money right away, per his instructions. But there’s a problem: Your friend never sent this request. In fact, he isn’t even aware of it. His malware-infected computer grabbed all of his contacts and forwarded the bogus email to everyone, waiting to see who would bite.

Again, think before acting. Call your friend. Inform him of the request and see if it’s true. Next, make sure your computer isn’t infected as well.

5. Chain Letters

You’ve likely seen this one before — the dreaded chain letter has returned. It may appear in the form of, “Retweet this and Bill Gates will donate $5 million to charity!” But hold on, let’s think about this. Bill Gates already does a lot for charity. Why would he wait for something like this to take action? Answer: He wouldn’t. Both the cause and claim are fake.

Keep a close eye on your passwords and account numbers, that hot chick on the screen just might be a man waiting to drain your bank account. You can use the cyber-protection services of StartupLanes to stay protected.