BBB warns of email scam that may be targeting you via social media friend lists

February 6, 2013 8:44:56 PM PST
Facebook helps keep you connected to family and friends, but there is a warning about messages you may get from those on your friends list.

Scammers are mining the pages of Facebook and other social media sites, looking for lists of your friends and then sending messages to you from those friends. But that message is little more than an attempt to steal financial information.

A recent email to Ashley Small seemed to be from a friend she knows, but it turned out to be someone totally different.

"Someone has been following her on social media, paying attention to her patterns, seeing her friends, seeing her likes and interests. And they actually created a duplicate account just like my friend's page," she said.

Small says the impostor then started sending out emails to the victim's real friends, emails that contained only an Internet link.

"The message included a link to a virus, and it was spam," Small said.

That virus apparently has one goal, searching out the passwords and account numbers stored on your personal computer. The spoof accounts are becoming so much of a problem that the Better Business Bureau is issuing a warning about emails from friends to everyone who uses social media.

"They are extremely convincing because you see the email and it looks to be from your friend," Houston BBB's Leah Napoliello said.

Napoliello says there is a way to spot a fake friend email.

"If you look at the email address, usually that will be different. But some people don't do that," she said.

Another way to protect yourself is turn on the privacy settings on your social media accounts. That way, no one can see your list of friends. Remember, the default setting on social media sites typically allows people full access to your pages.

Another tip: If the email only contains a link, it is very likely not from your friend.

Best advise? Delete the email without clicking any links and then contact that old friend yourself.

Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices