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SNS makes Online Scamming Much Easier

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.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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32 Responses

  1. Rom says:

    Very scary indeed. Part of the reason why I don’t have a facebook account hehe!

  2. Herce says:

    This would be reasons not to use social networking sites at all. I don’t understand people these days. Why voluntarily give up your privacy for corporate profit? Especially an American corporation? In return you get what? The ability for predators to rape you (I mean that litteraly)? Some temporary narcissistic pleasure?

  3. Menard says:

    I like this post :) Master Yuga gave good and easy to relate to examples on social media/networking sites and scams on the Philippines scenario.

    Social Networking Sites’ users should be aware of the consequences of their actions online, and decide if they are willing to take the risks associated with that action.

    Social media offers the good stuffs/benefits but one key learning here is that there will always be “bad guys” out there that can (and will) abuse the info they got from social media for their own malicious activities.

  4. fr0stbyte says:

    Well, as long as your not a tweet whore (yeah, I said it) and you don’t post intimate and personal information on your accounts then you should be okay. These include addresses and location tweets. And if it’s too good to be true, IT PROBABLY IS.

  5. Yes people please secure yourselves, the internet is not a safe place :)

  6. Deng says:

    ingats po talaga dapat.

  7. razorous says:

    Not worried about me, but scares me when mom will someday learn how to log on her facebook account…

  8. matindi yung akyat bahay gang 2.0 sir Yuga.Pati akyat bahay e hi-tech.
    social sites are definitely a “sea of victims” for would-be scammers. Parang open database kasi yun e. Dapat tlga responsible sa pagpopost sa mga sites na ganyan. Don’t give too much info if its not needed. Kakagulat na ung iba, pati cellphone number at home number pinopost sa site nila e.
    Ingat ingat lang :D

  9. roan says:

    also be careful sending out resume online there are some bogus recruitment agency which can use all the info on your cv…

  10. Jon says:

    Hah. Good thing I keep my online identity pretty private. Most importantly, I don’t have any account in any online social network.

    This has been happening for such a long time now, though maybe not much here. I keep telling my friends about this, but they shrug my warnings off, like I’m some sort of a madman. So saying you got “hacked” may not really be the case. Most likely, you voluntarily gave those information. Social engineering FTW.

  11. ChiliJoe says:

    Very valuable post, Yuga.

    One thing we need to educate SNS users out there is the criticality of setting strict privacy settings on their accounts.

  12. curious_Girl says:

    These MOs are really getting “wais.” Very resourceful ha.

  13. MG says:

    very great post! can I reblog this?

  14. benj says:

    Akyat Bahay Gang 2.0 – burglars stalking your Twitter/Facebook/FourSquare status and hitting your home or car while you’re away.

    OKAY! You just made millions of people paranoid. haha

  15. Jan Alvin says:

    LOL – Akyat-Bahay Gang 2.0 :D

    But still being alert all the time is what makes you safe.

  16. Miguel says:

    I just had a thread on Twitter, that the operators should offer a Foursquare via SMS service to make it more popular. But I got reactions like this one, that it would be a bad thing. How to balance that approach, versus being elitist? (Foursquare/Twitter only for Internet or smartphone users)

  17. Jhay says:

    That’s why I don’t stream a detailed account of my everyday life in any of my SNS accounts.

    I’m still a bit conservative about my privacy, that’s why most of my activity in Facebook and Twitter are about the things I do at school or blogging.

  18. ben says:

    very helpful infos. thats why when i register to SNS, i rarely used real info. better be safe than looted.

  19. Kyle says:

    Lupit nung akyat bahay gang 2.0! Matalino nakaicip nun

  20. NemOry says:

    please Like it.clik the link.and bec0me a fan at REdm0bile and like my post.please i beg u guys that is just a minuTE TO D0.PLZ. Here http://www.facebook.com/redmobile?v=feed&story_fbid=377579149097

  21. Leo says:

    ^stop begging, nakakahiya. dito ka pa sa site ni yuga namamalimos.

  22. hungry says:

    scary indeed. i was just thinking the same thing recently how i could easily pose as one of my networks given the information provided in their profiles. very much possible too that these 3rd party applications, in social networking sites such as facebook, are created with the intention of stealing a person’s identity. scary!!!

  23. Dave Starr says:

    Good run down, Abe, and I am glad to see a lot of thoughtful comments. Over the years some of the most egregious robberies and acts of government espionage can all be traced back, not to “James Bond” style gadgets and gimmicks, but what the trade calls “human engineering” … finding out the way inside by human contact.

    In fact, Kevin Mitnick, the guy who essentially “invented” hacking and was chased for years by the FBI and other key law enforcement agencies seldom used anything more sophisticated than his voice on a cell phone … he’d make calls, pose as an honest employee who got locked out, or some other phony story, and gain his first entry onto an otherwise secure system from someone elese’s helpful, but careless answer. FaceBook and other SNS networks just multiply the chance of that happening a thousand-fold.

  24. PI Outsource says:

    Never! Ever! Ever! put your real birthday date on the internet.

  25. jeefy says:

    something people dont have this days, “privacy”..

  26. just be careful with some recruitmet agencies because some of them are scammers too *

  27. Paving Slabs says:

    you should always be careful with recruitment agencies because some of them are just scammers :*-

  28. Will Warchol says:

    Thank you for another informative blog. The place else may I get that kind of information written in such an ideal approach? I’ve a challenge that I am just now operating on, and I have been on the glance out for such information.

  29. your site showed a 404 error when i posted my very last comment,
    not good! :(

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