7 On Your Side

Imposters use Facebook to swindle cash

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Con artists have figured out how to hijack someone's Facebook accounts and impersonate them online. One group of imposters swindled a Bay Area woman out of hundreds of dollars she couldn't afford to lose.

Faye Kintz of Castro Valley started a Facebook chat with her good friend Dawn Moore up in Washington. The two chatted several times over the summer.

"We talked about church, cooking," Kintz said.

Then, one day, Moore sent a jubilant message.

"She had won $50,000 through Powerball and Facebook," Kintz said.

Not only that, Moore said some of her friends were winners too, including Kintz.

"She told me my name was on there too and to email them," Kintz said.

So she sent the email and sure enough, Powerball sent Kintz a notice saying she was a winner too.

"I'd get my picture taken with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook," Kintz said.

Then the Powerball told Kintz she had to pay a $950 delivery fee, plus taxes. Kintz contacted Moore on Facebook asying she couldn't afford that. Moore replied, "That's how i got mine," and offered to pay part of the fee.

"Dawn told me she would send $300, the same place her money went to," Kintz said.

Kintz wrote back, "I am so scared, but i trust you." Then she wired the money to Powerball. $1,700 in all.

"They went, 'Congratulations, you'll have your money in three days,' and I'm all excited that's when I called Dawn, I said, 'Dawn, guess what? My money's coming too.' She goes, 'What?' and that's when I knew I was scammed," Kintz said.

It was a crushing blow. Moore told Kintz she had not written any of those messages. Imposters had taken control of her Facebook account. They had been posing as Moore for two months, sending messages to her friends, making them believe she was helping them win big money.

"I thought I was really talking to my girlfriend, talking about god," Kintz said.

7 On Your Side spoke with Moore.

"Some of my friends are still getting messages from these people who are impersonating me sending messages," she said.

Moore says she tried to shut down her account but cannot get Facebook to help.

"I was crying, I was upset," Kintz said.

Kintz contacted 7 On Your Side, which contacted Facebook. The company said users must follow a certain procedure to close a hacked account to ensure the true owner is the one shutting the page.

However, after 7 On Your Side notified the company, Facebook immediately opened an investigation into the attack.

Facebook said, "We take this issue very seriously. Our team has analyzed the trends of these attacks and is using this information to surface compromised accounts before the scammers get very far."

"'When is my money coming?' That was my last sentence. They never answered me," Kintz said.

So how did imposters take over Moore's Facebook page? First they notified her that she'd won the Powerball contest. They requested her email and password which were linked to her Facebook account. They used that to log on as Moore and took control from there.

Instructions from Facebook to avoid attacks and regain control of a compromised account:
We recommend users add both a Security Question and a mobile phone number to their account to ensure these situations don't occur, and use www.facebook.com/hacked to re-gain access to their account if they believe they have been compromised.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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facebook, 7 on your side, michael finney
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