Social media scams on the rise

Kiwis are being urged to think twice before clicking on a Facebook friend's new video, as fraudsters increasingly target victims over social media.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has issued advice on online scams as part of Fraud Awareness Week. It says there has been a rise in scams on social media such as Facebook, with many succeeding after people trust updates from online friends.

This year Kiwis have reported losing close to $3 million to an array of scams.

Sean Lyons, NetSafe's chief technology officer, said social media scammers worked on the assumption people were more trusting of content delivered through a friend's profile.

"The art of the scammer [is] about convincing people of the validity of what's being offered. What they are now doing is using what feels like, to the target, a more genuine recommendation."

A wide array target Facebook users, including the increasingly common problem of "clickjacking". This is a technique to trick users into clicking on links or buttons that are hidden from view -- a security weakness in web browsers can allow pages to be layered and hidden.

As a result, people can think they are clicking on the play button on a video posted by a friend, but they are really clicking on a hidden link.

They are then often redirected to other pages which ask for personal information, sometimes in the form of a "competition". The scam can expose victims to malicious software and use their profile to spread the scam.

According to NetSafe, Facebook users should beware of suspect or "goofy"posts from anyone. If a video looks like something someone would not normally post, people should not click on it. A suspicious post could be a sign their Facebook account has been hijacked.

Another way to minimise risk is to stay current on browser updates.

Another threat is versions of phishing scams, where criminals steal personal information or trick people into giving it. On Facebook, phishers can use status postings and Facebook messages from friends' accounts (which they have hacked).

They also send messages or emails pretending to be a popular app like Farmville or Mafia Wars.

Consumer Affairs urges people to report scams to scamwatch.govt.nz.

Social media scams

• Ministry of Consumer Affairs says such scams are on the rise.

• Many work off the likelihood people are more trusting of content delivered through a friend's profile.

• If a video looks like something someone would not normally post, people should not click on it, advises NetSafe.

• This year Kiwis have reported losses of close to $3 million in all types of scams.

- Nicholas Jones of the New Zealand Herald

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