- Internet & the Web
Facebook Hacking and The Photograph Scam.
I used to be one of those people who thought that I was far too technologically savvy to fall for an Internet scam. Hackers won't get hold of my details, I would think to myself. I read all about the phishing scams, the not to be trusted emails, the websites to be weary of and the get rich quick schemes that would only serve to fill the pockets of the organizers.
Yep I though I had seen, read and heard them all. I was educated on all the relative statistics and had gathered enough information to fill a small library about, malware and spyware. Along with a consciousness of the sophisticated hacking techniques that were being used, I was aware and prepared and no cybercriminal was ever going to get the better of me. Or so I had misguidedly and rather ignorantly believed, at the time.
One day as I was checking into on my facebook account I received a message, it said that a friend of mine had tagged me in a photograph, I clicked on the link filled partly with curiosity and partly with dread. If it was a flattering photograph of me from a good angle and looking relatively photogenic, then I would be pleased to see my face on the screen. However it could just as likely be one that made me look like a bag of crap, either way I wanted to peer at the offending picture of myself.
But unlike other times that I have gone to view an image, I have normally gotten straight through, however this time was different as it said that to access and view this picture I had to enter my facebook log in details. I was a little suspicious of this as I had never had to do it before to view pictures of myself, or any other images for that matter. (This was warning sign number one). Then I also noticed that the log in page, although strikingly like the usual, genuine facebook log in page, to me on this particular occasion, didn't look quite right. (Warning sign number two). Even my instincts were telling me not to input my user name and password. (Warning sign number three, and alarm bells were ringing). But for some inexplicable reason, I thought better of it, shrugged off my doubts and like a complete and utter wally, did it anyway.
Looking back, if I had been watching myself in that moment I would have been screaming at myself not to do it, but that is the bitter reality of high insight.
Hook, line and sinker.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I had been scammed, I had fallen for this false facebook facade and I was going to pay the price.
Indeed an image did pop up, but as my eyes fell on the vision before me, my heart sank. The photo it showed me was of a huge crowd of what appeared to be school children at some kind of event. Hundreds of people gathered together, wearing plain t-shirts and trousers, and the faces of the mass of people were almost indistinguishable, even if I was a member of that gang of individuals, (which I can tell you with absolute certainty, I was not) I wouldn't have been able to have identified myself anyway.
And that's the trick, you look over the vast wave of faces, for a split second you try and remember an event you went to as a child, where this might have been taken and quite possibly pick out someone that ever so vaguely looks maybe a bit like you, and then you think nothing more about it. But by then it's too late to do a damn thing about it because you have already given your precious details away, to some stranger somewhere to do with it what they will.
Low and behold, later that evening a diet pill company, were pasting links to there products via my facebook status feed and on my wall. The worse thing of all was that I could not do a damn thing about it. All I could do was watch in helpless despair as they kept peddling their goods on my page, under my name and making out that I was endorsing there product. My friends and family also believing that I was behind the promoting. I just hoped that no one clicked on any of the links and that it didn't lead to some other greater scam later on, where people might actually end up losing money.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they did. The next morning I couldn't even access my own account! Numerous times I put my details in and each time I was denied access. I got very frustrated and angry, but in reality the only person I had to blame for this whole mess was myself.
Luckily the wonderful people from the social networking site had cottoned on to what had happened, and was sorting out the security breach. They had experienced this unscrupulous companies behavior at an epidemic level, and were working hard to fix the problem. Thankfully it all got sorted out and it has never happened again since.
I learned a hard but valuable lesson from that experience and I would never want anyone else to have to go through that. If something doesn't look or feel right, or your questioning it, then there is probably something wrong. Please don't make the same mistake as I did and compromise your account or details, by falling victim to phishing.