- Common Facebook Messenger Scams
- Red Flags of Facebook Messenger Scams
- How to Beat Facebook Messenger Scams
- How to Report Facebook Messenger Scams
- Frequently Asked Questions
Facebook messenger scams are attempts by hackers who gain access to the Facebook account of someone you know or respect. By impersonating someone in your follower's list or contacts, they can use your relationship with that person to steal your money or sensitive information. In some instances, the attacker may make a fake account that appears to belong to someone you know.
Scams involving Facebook Messenger are different from general Facebook scams because the attacker first impersonates someone you know or may admire and then reaches out through its messaging platform. With other Facebook scams, the scammer doesn’t need to pretend to be a friend or someone you know.
Common Facebook Messenger Scams
Facebook messenger scams often seem real and are very convincing. Here are examples of some of the common variants of this scam.
With a lottery scam, the scammer pretends to either be someone you know or to represent an organization. They tell you you’re among a group of people who have won a lottery. However, you can only claim your winnings if you pay a small fee. In some cases, they may also ask for your bank account information or your address.
The first objective of a romance scam is to get you to trust the scammer and develop intimate feelings for them. They then use that as leverage to ask you for money or pay for something like a trip or visa. To gain your sympathy, they may pretend to be trying to get out of a bad relationship or claim to have recently been divorced or widowed.
With a donation scam, the attacker pretends to represent a charity or a famous religious person. They are taking advantage of the fact that charities and prominent religious personalities often ask for donations. However, when you donate, the money goes to the scammer.
Government Grant Scams
A government grant scam starts with someone reaching out claiming you are eligible for a government grant. They then tell you there is an upfront fee required to receive the funding. To collect the fee from you, they may ask for your bank account information. They may also say you can pay the fee with a gift card, money transfer, cryptocurrency, or a card that allows you to load cash onto it.
A contest scammer uses Facebook Messenger to advertise a contest, but you have to submit personal or contact information to join the competition. They may say you automatically win a prize, such as a gift card, just for entering and may win more later. However, they want to collect your information to either sell or use it to impersonate you online.
A coupon scam is a type of phishing scam that seeks to get your Facebook login information. The scammer reaches out over Facebook Messenger and says you can take advantage of a coupon from a major retailer or get a vacation at a significant discount.
All you have to do is enter your Facebook login credentials on their site. The scammer will then take your information and use it to hack into your Facebook account.
An inheritance scam is also often a phishing scam in which the attacker tries to get information from you. They may claim to be an attorney who represents the estate of someone who died and that you’re entitled to a portion of the money. They then ask for your bank details or address to either sell them or use them to steal from you.
The “Give Money, and You’ll Get More in Return” Scam
With this scam using Facebook Messenger, someone claiming to be a friend reaches out and tells you they sent money to someone and got more back in return. They then suggest you do the same. However, when you send your money, you don’t get anything sent in return.
Loan scammers will offer a loan at an extremely low interest rate if you pay an upfront fee. They may send the offer over Facebook Messenger or through a post or comment in a group or on someone’s page. However, after the payment has been sent, the victim doesn’t gain access to any loan whatsoever.
The “Is This You?” Scam
With this scam, you get a link through Facebook Messenger asking if a video or image of someone doing something potentially embarrassing is you. When you click on the link, you either download malware or get your browser hijacked by an attacker. The scammer can then spy on what you enter on other sites, such as your username, password, and other access credentials.
The “Someone Unfriended You!” or “See Who Viewed Your Profile” Scams
With these scams, after you see an alert in Facebook Messenger or an email, you navigate to a page that’s meant to steal your credentials. When you log in, your name and password are stored and then abused by a hacker.
Red Flags of Facebook Messenger Scams
Some red flags to look out for when communicating through Facebook Messenger include:
- People who you’ve never met face-to-face asking you for money
- People asking you for upfront fees in exchange for giving you a prize, loan, or something else you have “won”
- Someone asking you to move the conversation to email instead of remaining on Facebook Messenger
- When a “friend” you’re talking to over Facebook Messenger has a lot of spelling or grammatical errors in their messages
- When someone claims to be a relative or a friend who needs help due to an emergency
- Friends messaging you strangely or sending messages that don’t sound like them
How to Beat Facebook Messenger Scams
To protect yourself from scams on Facebook Messenger, you should never add strangers as friends. Also, you shouldn’t click on links sent through Messenger that you haven’t requested.
It’s also wise to never engage in any financially related activity on Facebook. This includes making payments—especially with gift cards—claiming prizes, or interacting with a bank.
Official interactions with people representing the government also shouldn’t happen over Facebook; these people will always provide a more direct method of communication. Also, if you connect with a friend who has just joined Facebook, you should call them to make sure they are who they claim to be.
How to Report Facebook Messenger Scams
If you suspect you’re being scammed on Facebook Messenger, you should report the person to Facebook.
Further, there are steps you can take to prevent or stop an attack including:
- Blocking the person’s messages or the individual.
- Ignoring the conversation or deleting it.
- Taking a screenshot of your exchange. Do this if you want to use the communications to report the attacker.
- Report them directly from their page if they are pretending to be someone they aren’t.
Also, if the person sent you a communication designed to get you to provide your login credentials, you should report it to [email protected]. If you feel you may have been phished, use our guide on how to beat phishing scams to protect your identity.
To secure yourself and your accounts you'll need to:
- Contact your financial providers to alert them of the incident.
- Update and scan your computer for viruses or malware.
- Change the passwords to your infected accounts.
- Contact the credit bureaus to report possible identity theft and freeze your accounts.