Back in the days, online scams were perpetrated via emails, forums or instant messenger (YM mostly). I think it was way harder then to successfully run a scam compared to nowadays. The MO is still the same but they are much more convincing now than ever.
Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare, these scammers have much more information they can use to their advantage.
First, the MO (modus operandi) — a scammer pretends to be an old/close friend you haven’t met for some time and contacts you asking for money.
- With your Facebook account, scammers are able to pull out photos and personal information (i.e. school or office/company, contact numbers, email) they can use to profile you.
- With Photo tagging, they are able to identify the faces with the names of your close friends, relatives and loved ones. This can be used to select which identity they can use as bait for you.
- With Twitter, they are able to profile your regular habits — where you eat for lunch, who you’re with, what time you go to office or back home or if you bring your car or commute.
- With FourSquare, they can pin-point where you are at specific times of the day, where you regularly hang out or park your car. Worse, you could be giving them your home address.
With all these information about you readily available on social networking sites, it becomes much easier to scam you or use your identity.
Credit Card Fraud – with your birthday, mother’s maiden name and home address combined with some social engineering, a secondary card can be issued under your account.
SSS Loan Fraud – we’ve heard stories about people taking on loans under a different name and SSS number. SNS now becomes another source for picking out personal data for the application (and even an SSS ID).
Emergency eLoad Scam – scammers posing as friends or relatives asking for money via eLoad or call cards (or Smart Money/GCash) due to some accident or health emergencies.
Lottery Scam – people calling you up telling you won a lottery from PAGCOR or some agency or network and asking for money to process the reward.
Akyat Bahay Gang 2.0 – burglars stalking your Twitter/Facebook/FourSquare status and hitting your home or car while you’re away.
There are so many more scam stories and fraudulent transactions I’ve heard both from regular folks and merchants. That doesn’t include those extortion stories of people being visited in their homes by suspicious personalities.
Social networking sites encourage you to share information, be connected all the time and be transparent or public. However, this transparency can also work against you. The more info you share about you, the better the over-all social experience but at the same time the higher the risk of being a scam victim.