FACEBOOK users have been warned about a string of heartbreaking hoaxes being shared across the social network.
Cyber con artists have found yet another way to trick people out of money.
This time, they pretend to be a concerned relative looking for their missing uncle.
“URGENT – MISSING!” the post begins.
“My uncle Mr Martin Jones aged 79 drove out yesterday with our dog Baxter and he hasn’t returned.
“He doesn’t know where he’s going, he has dementia.
“There is a silver alert activated on him.
“Please help me bump this post so I can get him home safely.”
The same post has been put up on several local groups on Facebook.
And hundreds have unwittingly shared it.
Sadly, it’s just a sick hoax designed to pull on people’s heartstrings.
Fortunately experts at Full Fact have flagged that the posts are a scam so people know.
They’ve also tracked down the original picture, which shows the man is not called Martin Jones, nor does he have dementia.
It’s not uncommon for people to post things like lost dogs or missing children on local Facebook groups given the sense of community many hold.
The purpose behind it is so fraudsters can go and edit the post after to something completely different.
According to the Better Business Bureau, they’ll put something like a deceptive rental ad or a link pointing to a survey that “guarantees” a cash prize.
But because you’ve now shared it on your profile, friends may think it’s genuine and click it.
So you’ve unintentionally set Facebook friends onto dubious pages where they can be scammed.
How to spot a scammer on Facebook
There are ways to work out whether the person posting something in a Group is a scammer or not.
Firstly, click on their profile and see where they’re from.
If it says from somewhere far away that should be an instant red flag.
Then look at the type of account they have.
If they don’t have many friends or followers, it means they’re very likely a con artist.
That’s because bad actors are usually caught and their accounts banned, meaning they have to create a new one each time.
You should also see how long they’ve been a member – if it’s very recent, that’s definitely not a good sign.
Look at the comments as well, some members are good at highlighting these criminals.
Another tip is copy and pasting the text of their post in Google to see if others have reported it.
Finally, you can do a reverse image search of the pet on Google as well, to see if it’s been used somewhere else.
If you do suspect a fraudster, be sure to report them.
It prevents others from potentially falling victim.
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