Experts Urge Users to Ignore Facebook Christmas Bonus Scam

Identity theft experts are warning Facebook users to be on the lookout for a “Christmas bonus” scam which appears to be endorsed by their friends on the social network.

Variations on these scams appear to have been circulating on Facebook since at least 2015.

Most recently, users are being targeted by messages claiming to offer them a “Christmas bonus” or “Christmas benefit,” according to the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

“Facebook users receive messages from individuals in their contact lists about winning a ‘Christmas bonus.’ The messages are coming from the cloned accounts of friends, and they state that the individual has won a Facebook Christmas Bonus Giveaway,” it explained. 

“The targeted victim is then directed to contact a ‘Facebook Agent,’ who will send a message that [it] is a random contest sponsored by [legitimate US lottery game] Powerball.”

Although there are variations on this theme, the bottom line is that the scammers want either victims’ personal information or their money, or both.

They will usually ask for personal details in order to process the ‘bonus.’ They may also ask for a small ‘transfer fee’ in order to wire the winnings into the victim’s bank account.

The ITRC urged users to delete any such messages and inform their friends that their account may have been hijacked or cloned. They can also report any attempted fraud like this to Facebook itself.

A COVID-fuelled recession in many parts of the world has provided scammers with an opportunity to trick more victims into parting with their money and/or personal data.

They’re also commonplace across email channels, according to new research from Barracuda Networks.

The security vendor claimed that 36% of spear-phishing emails it analyzed between August and October 2020 were “scams,” as well as 72% of all COVID-themed phishing missives.

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