Most social networks' users are hit by online scams almost daily - whether its the ubiquitous survey scam or the "share your cell phone number, get subscribed for a premium number service".
These schemes, however annoying they might be, are nothing when compared to those perpetrated by professional con artists that have discovered the advantages of hunting for their pray online.
"The Internet has made it simple for a con artist to reach millions of potential victims at minimal cost," says the North American Securities Administrators Association. "Many of the online scams regulators see today are merely new versions of schemes that have been fleecing offline investors for years."
Users of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are usually the most targeted, since once a user accepts a scammer as a friend or contact/connection, his list of friends and contacts is made available to the con artist.
He can then approach those people as a "friend of a friend", and can used the information shared by them on those sites to quickly establish trust.
Eileen AJ Connelly says that these crooks employ the same tactics they would use on offline investors: they offer fast and high returns for little or no risk and they use professionally made bogus sites touting the scheme but offering very few details on it or about the company they want the target to invest in.
They avoid giving out written information about the investment, and can sometimes ask targets to set up online accounts to transfer the money. They also offer bonuses that make targets more likely to recruit family and friends into the scheme.
Luckily, there are mechanisms one can use and behaviors one can adopt in order to minimize the risk for themselves and their friends:
Author: Zeljka Zorz, HNS News Editor