Man loses $60K to impersonator

Social media can be a wonderful way to connect with friends and family, but for one Idahoan, a fake friend request from an old friend turned into an expensive nightmare. It all started when he got a message saying his friend had won a lot of money. Curious, the victim followed the instructions he thought were from his old friend.

The scammers in this one were good; they spoke with the man regularly and groomed him to trust the situation. He was told that in order to claim his prize, he would need to start with a processing fee. Soon, that snowballed to $60,000 spent over 15 transactions.

This is a devastating story, but like most scams, this situation had many of the warning signs.

Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest wants you to keep these things in mind when communicating on social media accounts.

Be cautious with friend requests. If you don’t know them, don’t accept. If they are a “long ago friend” that is trying to reconnect, see if there are any friends in common and see if there is activity on their page. Contact mutual friends you know to see if they have had contact with them.

Avoid “offline” communication. Scammers will attempt to earn your trust and then quickly move the conversation to texting or email. They’ll use tactics to keep up the charade, attempting to be as believable as possible as the person they are impersonating.

Watch for requests for money. Impersonators will earn your trust and then come up with a reason for you to send money. Like in this case, they may say you’ve won money or have been awarded a grant. In other versions of this scheme, the scammer may claim to need help with medical bills or travel to visit you or a loved one.

Never wire money. A sure sign of a scam is the request to wire funds or issue payment in some other untraceable way, like gift cards. Don’t fall for promises that you’ll be repaid or win even more. Even if the check arrives, it’s likely to be fraudulent.

Check your privacy settings. Tighten your security settings on your social media accounts to the highest level. Don’t allow people you aren’t friends with to see your posts, and be cautious with what you do post. Avoid sharing sensitive personal information online.

If you encounter a scam, even if you haven’t lost money, help warn others by reporting it! Head to bbb.org/ScamTracker.

Emily Valla is the marketplace director for Better Business Bureau Northwest: Idaho and Western Wyoming. Contact her at 208-523-9754 or by emailing emily.valla@thebbb.org.


Emily Valla is the marketplace director for Better Business Bureau Northwest: Idaho and Western Wyoming. Contact her at 208-523-9754 or by emailing emily.valla@thebbb.org.


ADVERTISEMENT