Note: if someone sent you this link, and you want to just skip to the fun part of the post, click here. But please come back for the meat…
“Help, I’ve been mugged in the United Kingdom!”
If you do see this pop up in a Facebook chat, don’t freak out.
It means your friend has been hacked. It usually starts with their email address being compromised, and the identity thief uses that to take over other online accounts.
Here’s what you need to know to help your friend (and here’s why you don’t want to try to hack my friends.)
Spotting the Fakes
I managed to get screen captures of the entire exchange, and was logging them while on the phone with my friend and his wife, at their school in Alabama. Bottom line, your Spidey Sense ought to start tingling when the request for money comes in.
Don’t bother saving the screen captures, because the police can’t do anything with them anyway. Instead, you can do the most help by doing the following.
1) Go to their Friends tab, and just do a simple cut-and-paste of the names of all their friends. That way, if they have to reconstruct their account from scratch, you’re covering their butt that they don’t inadvertently leave anyone out. The link is usually in the form of http://www.facebook.com/friends/?id=###########
2) Alert Facebook. Go to the Facebook Help page for when your friend gets hacked, and follow the instructions. If it’s the one where they are asking you to wire them money, then you can go straight to that link.
- Report your friend’s account here.
- Contact the money transfer service immediately if you or a friend have sent money to the impersonator; scammers often use Western Union.
If you would like more information, the FTC has created an alert, titled Money Transfers Can Be Risky Business , that explains money transfer scams and other actions one can take.
(I’ve included her current profile picture, which really doesn’t tell you anything other than she’s a Dallas Cowboys’ fan.)
I hadn’t heard from her in a few months, but the last time she reached out to me was through chat. It wasn’t out of character for her to do so.
Bottom line: Don’t mess with my friends.