Okanagan man warning others of social media money scam
An Okanagan man is warning of a new online scam, one that has a social media imposter asking for money.
Altair Millares of Kelowna says the scam involved one of his Facebook contacts reaching out and asking if he knew about a government fund called an empowerment grant. According to the friend, if Millares sent money to a third party, he would be eligible for “huge sums of money” and that they “would FedEx it to you.”
“This sounded too good to be true,” said Millares, adding he didn’t know this Facebook contact very well, at least not well enough to be discussing money. “So I thought ‘Let’s see where this is going.’ And so I let it sit there for the day and came back. I got another message, this time asking me if I had done it yet, contacted the ‘agent online.’ I said I wasn’t really sure of this and I thought I’d wait and see.
“So I totally forgot about it for days, two weeks almost. And then I looked one afternoon and saw there were two profiles on Messenger with my friend’s name. One had the normally spelled name and the other was not exactly misspelled, but they used lowercase in one of the letters.”
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Millares said he was asked to click on a link in Messenger and then speak to an individual “who was waiting for all that information.”
Millares said he didn’t click on the link, guessing that those who do will be “manipulated into volunteering all of your financial information. Maybe your social insurance number, perhaps pertinent personal information that could potentially ruin your bank account or your credit or identity.”
Asked what he thought of this scam, Millares said it was “insidious. There are a lot of people making themselves vulnerable because we all agree to volunteer all this information, not knowing or maybe naively . . . giving up our privacy unknowingly.”
On its website, the Better Business Bureau says “scammers continue to con Facebook users out of thousands of dollars with phony government grant offers. You may be among the many Facebook users who have been approached by “friends” claiming you are eligible to receive a “free” U.S. government grant. In the end, there is no free government grant, but instead, an elaborate scheme to steal your personal information and money.”
Millares said he’s been using Facebook since 2007, but had no issues with it until now.
“This is the first time I’ve actually personally experienced something like this, where somebody posed as one of my Facebook acquaintances,” said Millares. “It was blatant . . . I’m flabbergasted it. It’s kind of surreal, but it’s reality.”
Millares said he’s relieved nothing happened to him, adding he reached out to Global News to warn others.
“I don’t want anyone else to be victimized. We are all vulnerable if we have our identities online, having social media profiles. We leave ourselves very vulnerable to people who want to use our information for whatever.”
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