Help Topic – The Learning Curve – How to Spot and Avoid Fake Video & News Scams on Facebook.


This article has been written for those who want to learn how to Spot and Avoid fake video and news scams on Facebook. It’s is not made to detail any one specific viral scam, but to give you the basic information needed to avoid most if not all fake video and news scams on Facebook. By today’s standards it is considered a bit long, lol, but if you are really serious about avoiding these types of scams and have very little to no experience on Facebook and the web, you should sit back, relax and have a read.. Even if you are savvy there is something in here for you too, I bet. I hope, you find this article helpful to you and your friends.

Facebook suffers a constant onslaught of fake celebrity sex-tapes, stories, bogus world news events, viral prank and other questionable video links. These video links often present themselves as legit to Facebook users with unseasoned eyes and very little if any computer experience. What makes it even worse is that Scam artists have learned to use the “trust” factor as the main method for duping people into clicking these links and being exploited. In other words, they use your Facebook friends and lack of experience to trick you. The chances are you will be more likely to believe something if you see it has been or appears to be endorsed by a few of your facebook friends. Now many people will state its Facebook’s duty to keep these types of landmines out of your news feed, and I agree with them. However, since Facebook seems to be unable to completely rid your feed of this issue, you have to learn what’s safe to click and what may not be. Hopefully this article will help you in that mission.

Some of these fake video links use titles and text that is pulled from popular, real world news headlines; celebrity gossip, Erotic topics or funny wide spread YouTube videos. Others are just plain made up and designed to grab your attention with something shocking, sexual, disgusting or sad. Many of them will try to urge you to click them by claiming the video is exclusive or they will use terms like OMG, WOW or Shocking with the intention of making you feel you must not miss seeing what’s offered. Since the links usually pop up in your news feed as a message from one of your friends, (Normally from a Friend Who Already Fell for the Scam), you may think the video or message is legit and click on it. Below I have included 5 example fake video scams. You can use these examples to familiarize yourself with what these types of fake video scams look like.

Examples – Video Scam Messages

Though the above videos may look somewhat legit they are not. In fact, if you take some time to closely look at them, some red flags should pop right out at you. Often times these videos have really bad grammar, multiple misspellings, odd looking urls, explicit images for the thumbnails and thumbnails with “video Play Buttons” in the wrong location. These are all signs that something isn’t right and you should stop and think before you click.

Another way you know these videos aren’t legit is they never load or play within Facebook like normal Facebook videos or YouTube videos. If you do make the mistake of clicking one you will notice you are quickly transferred to some unknown external website. Sometimes the websites themselves have been designed to look like Facebook, YouTube or other well know news websites and that can make the scam harder to spot after you’ve click. However, before you click anything on the site you get taken too, take a few seconds to look up at your web browsers address bar. If the link you clicked was suppose to show you a video on NBC, then you should see http://www.nbc.com at the beginning of the web address shown in your web browsers address bar. Same goes for YouTube or Facebook or any other well know or verified video or news source. If you see, (Facbok.com or YouCube.blogspot.com or anything thing similar), immediately close the browser to get away from the site. Below I have included a few examples of fake video websites. Use these examples to familiarize yourself with what these Fakes look like.

Examples – Fake Video Websites

The example websites shown above are typical fake video scams. These websites often trick Facebook users in to exploiting their own accounts to spread spam, survey scams and sometimes even worse malware. Most of these scams use the same methods of exploitation over and over Such as: Click-jacking, Web browser plugins, Fake Adobe Flash Updates or sometimes they force you to manually share the spam. In the end they all achieve the same goal by getting Facebook users to post messages to their friends stating they have seen a video or read a shocking report they really haven’t. While these messages are posted usually behind the victims back, the victims are led off to the main purpose of the scam, which is to get them to complete bogus surveys or offers net Scam Artists 1 to 3 dollars per survey completed. Sometimes the scams go beyond just that goal and can end in virus infected computers and id theft.

The Click-jacking Method

When the victim reaches the external website and tries to play what appears to be the video they want to see, by clicking the play button, their click is invisibly hijacked and produces a “like” or “Recommendation” in their name, for all of their friends to see on Facebook, in their news feed or ticker. While the victim’s friends are baited, the victim is quickly taken to another page or website and told they must complete a survey to continue.

The Web browser plugin Method

When the victim reaches the external website they see what looks like a video play box, but are told they need to install a special YouTube or premium content video plugin. The Fake browser plugins compromise Facebook user’s accounts and causes them to repeatedly spam their friends by Tagging or Checking them into multiple posting of the fake video or news link. Since “Check Ins” and “Tagging” work similar on Facebook this will allow the scam to spread from the victim’s friends to the victim’s friend’s friends effectively. While all the tagging and posting is going on behind the victims back, the victim is quickly taken to another page or website and told they most complete a survey to continue.

The Fake Adobe Flash Update Method

When the victim reaches the external website they see what looks like a video play box, but are told they need to install an updated version of adobe flash player. The Fake Adobe Updates work similar to the browser plugins except they can be much more malicious. Beside spamming the victims Facebook friends, they may install information stealing viruses, place ads on the victims Facebook page, redirect the user to various Survey pages, monitor the victims browsing habits or even worse, Lock the victim out of their Facebook account altogether. Though the scam artist may still want you to fill out a survey so he can make a quick buck off of you, this method goes far beyond a simple survey scam.

The Manually Spam Method

When the victim reaches the external website they see what looks like a video play box, but they are told they cannot see or play the video until they manually share the spam message and website to their Facebook friends. A Share button is usually shown and once it’s clicked victims are prompted to share what they haven’t even seen yet. Once the victim goes along with this ploy, they are quickly taken to another page or website and told they most complete a survey to continue.

The End Result

In most cases there is no shocking sexy disgusting sad video or story to see in these scams and most victims simply are left wishing they had never bother clicking through it. Sometimes a scam artist will give his marks what’s promised, but the Fact is it’s usually nothing the mark couldn’t find by simply searching Google or YouTube directly, no money making schemes, scams, spam, malware or embarrassment involved.

The Proactive Approach To Not Getting Scammed
Now that you have a basic understanding of how these scams work and what to watch out for, it is advised that you practice a pro-active approach to dealing with them on Facebook. It is better to avoid these malicious items in the first place, rather than to suffer the frustration of having to clean up your Facebook profile or computer after you have fallen victim to one of them. In general you should refrain from clicking or following random untrustworthy links on Facebook. Always remember it is better to ask a friend if they have posted a particular message or item before you simply click through it, especially if the message or item appears to be strange in nature. Links to spam, scams and other malicious elements may appear in your news feed, inbox, and chat window or event list. Be wise: look, read and inspect all links before you click them and if you make the mistake of clicking something questionable it’s never too late to simply close your browser to avoid being trapped further. As a general rule of thumb you should be sure to keep your Anti-Virus software, Operating System & Browsers up to date at all times.

Do Not Download Browser Plugins or Adobe Flash Player Updates via unknown websites. The best place to download Chrome Extensions or plugins is Here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions and Firefox is here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/ . Always download Adobe Flash Updates from here: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/.

It is advised that Facebook users practice retrieving their news and other related information from well known, reputable mainstream media outlets. Most well known media outlets have Facebook pages you can become a fan of and receive there updates right in your news feed 24 hours a day. Below I will list a few for reference…

Protecting Yourself From Tag Spam On Facebook
Since you will not be able to stop some of your friends from falling for scams/spam that use Tagging or Checkins to spread, it is advised that you use a proactive approach to stopping the scam/spam from spreading to your other friends, with your name attached to it. The simplest way to do this is to turn on “Timeline Review“. Turning on “Timeline Review” will allow you to review all of the post your friends “Tag” you in, before they go to your timeline, profile or into your friends news feeds. Please see the How to Turn On “Timeline Review” Section for more information.

How to Turn On “Timeline Review
If you would like to review posts and photos you’re tagged in before they go on your profile/timeline, turn on Profile (Timeline) Review.

  1. Click the Account Menu, (White Upside Down Triangle), at the top right of any Facebook page and choose Privacy Settings.
  2. Scroll down the Privacy Settings page to the heading How Tags Work and click the “Edit Settings” link to the right.
  3. In the “How Tags Work” dialog box that opens, click the heading “Timeline Review“.
  4. In the “Timeline Review” dialog box that opens, read the information provided then select “Enabled” from the options button show to the left.
  5. Finally click “Back” then “Done” to close the tag settings.

Example Dialog Boxes

Facebook Profile Clean Up – (Oops, You Fell For A Scam)
If you have fallen for a fake video scam, you need to remove any Likes, Web Browser Plugins or Fake Adobe Flash Updates you may have installed as a result of the scam. You also need to delete any wall messages you have posted to your Facebook friends as soon as possible. If you have seen your friends post fake video scam, take a little time to report the spam to Facebook.
How to recover from spamming browser plugins or fake adobe updates:

First: Start by checking for and removing any suspicious browser plugins. Below I have included links to both Chrome & Firefox’s help topics for removing Browser extensions or plugins.

Uninstall extensions (Chrome)
http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=113907
Uninstalling add-ons (Firefox)
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Uninstalling_extensions

If you believe you have downloaded and installed a Fake Adobe Flash Update you should update your Anti-Virus Software and RUN A FULL SCAN with it immediately. The fake updates are always malicious and usually push really bad viruses or information stealing Trojans on to victims computers. It is advised that you not only scan your computer with the main Anti-Virus software you currently have, but also run a secondary scan with and independent AV scanner or Malware Scanner. Below I have listed a few free Online AV scanners and 2 highly recommend Malware Scanners.

TrendMicro’s HouseCall
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/

Panda ActiveScan
http://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/solutions/activescan/

Bitdefender QuickScan
http://www.bitdefender.com/scanner/online/free.html

ESET Online Scanner
http://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Highly Recommend To Go With Your Main AV.)
Has a 30 day trial Offer for the full version but you can use the free version forever.
http://download.cnet.com/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware/3000-8022_4-10804572.html

Hitman Pro (Cloud Based Anti-Malware Scanner)
Hitman will scan and clean your computer of Malware 1 time for free. If it doesn’t find anything, you don’t have to install the 30 day trial.
http://www.surfright.nl/en

————–

Second: After you are sure you have removed any malware you may have installed as a result of being scammed, you should change your Facebook Password just in case.

How do I reset my password?
https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=213395615347144#How-do-I-reset-my-password?
————–

Third: Finally you should delete any wall messages you have posted to your Facebook friends and or report the spam to Facebook.

Here is how to remove a post from from your Facebook wall or Timeline

How do I remove a Wall post or story?
https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=203594616344678#How-do-I-remove-a-Wall-post-or-story?

How do I hide a story on my timeline?
https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=261211860580476#How-do-I-hide-a-story-on-my-timeline?

The link below shows you how to Report Abuse on Facebook. It covers reporting a post as spam.

How to Report Abuse
https://www.facebook.com/help/reportlinks

Did You Fill Out The Survey Scam?
It is important that you never hand over any personal information, such as: email addresses, cell number, name, home address or credit card numbers, to these types of scams. If you do, you are simply setting yourself up to be spammed or worse. Identity theft is big business and handing over some of the info these bogus surveys ask for, will make you a victim of that business. If you have made the mistake of handing over a credit card number, you should call your bank or credit provider as soon as possible to have them remove or dispute the charges that have or maybe made to the card. If you’ve given your cell number to any of these types of Scams, it is important that you call your cell carrier ASAP to have any charges you may receive stopped. If you begin to receive unsolicited phone calls, you should take note of the calls, record names and numbers, and then report the calls to the FCC or other proper authorities.

Examples – Survey Scams

Stay Sharp and Be Safe, Avoid Facebook scams..

~Black Knight

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