Facebook 'Sister' Scam: Woman Lost $2,000 After Fake Chat
Edythe Schumacher fell victim to what is being called the Facebook 'sister' scam.
Last month, Schumacher's sister messaged her to apply for a government grant. If she donated $2,000, she could gain access to $500,000 in financial aid. Schumacher was told to contact Sgt. Chris Swecker, who claimed to be with the Federal Government Humanity and Empowerment Program. He had her wire the money to a Massachusetts charity.
Swecker is a retired FBI agent who investigated computer crimes. The charity exists. Neither of them participated in the scam. Her sister's account had been hacked, and now Schumacher's money is gone.
The Facebook 'sister' scam is not entirely new. It's common for scammers to use real names attached to fake accounts.
If this is news to you, it's time to be more vigilant. Even if an offer appears to be verified by someone you know, remember the following:
- You should call and verify an organization or government agency. Use a phone number plucked from an official site or phonebook.
- If the government is involved, the program will have a .gov web address.
- A charity will be registered with the state and IRS.
- If asked to donate by a friend or family member over the internet, give them a call.
- Reputable institutions will not ask for your financial information online or over the phone.
- If you choose to send money, do not send it to an account with Western Union or a similar service. Actual bank accounts require government-issued ID. Checks can be cancelled.
Another Facebook 'sister' scam is entirely preventable. Just remember that some offers really are too good to be true.
- Beware Facebook Scammers Looking to Steal Your Money (Christian Post)
- Consumer Scams FAQ (FindLaw)
- Detecting Identity Theft: Has Someone Stolen Your Identity? (FindLaw's Common Law)