The World Sailing Championships were recently spoofed by scammers on Facebook, who used fake offers of free live streaming to fool the unwary into parting with their account credentials. This is one of many such cons that abound on social media nowadays.
The disclosure was made by the National Cybersecurity Company (NCC) in what it described as a “public service announcement.”
“Don’t fall for the ‘live stream’ Facebook scammers,” said NCC. “They are everywhere. And no matter how fast we block them, a new one pops up. Fake Facebook scammer links to live streams are a type of online fraud that involves tricking users into clicking on malicious links that lead to fake live streams on the Facebook platform.”
Such scams weaponize people’s natural curiosity or desire to access prized content, such as live events and exclusive broadcasts, to steal personal data, spread malware, or engage in other malicious activities including spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories.
Highlighted as a case in point was a recent scam that offered tempting glimpses of nautical action, in the form of the popular Allianz-sponsored annual sailing contest held in August at The Hague.
Dodgy links were accompanied by tantalizing photos of sailing ships ploughing a furrow through Dutch waters – but clicking on one only ends up with your details getting phished.
NCC warned “sailing fanatics” could have been easy prey for the bogus social media posts, with some victims even unwittingly becoming recruits for criminals out to catch themselves a tidy haul of Facebook account details.
“They come from very random ‘people’ (who are usually robots), and their ‘groups’ usually have a handful of people who have, unfortunately, fallen for the fake link in the hope to watch themselves some sailing,” said NCC.
Of course, this only helps to give the ploy an added veneer of legitimacy, increasing the criminals’ chances of success.
What makes the scam so convincing is the crooks’ attention to follow-through: once a dodgy link has been clicked on, the dupe is taken to a fake Facebook page that mimics a genuine live stream portal, using logos, color schemes, and layouts as needed to do so.
To avoid falling foul of similar scams, NCC urges the public to remain always skeptical and essentially follow the ‘no-free-lunch’ approach to offers that seem too good to be true.
“Exercise caution when clicking on links that promise exclusive or sensational content, especially if they come from unknown sources,” it said. “Before clicking on any links, carefully examine the URL to ensure it’s an official Facebook domain.”
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