E-Threats Social Networks

Anyone Can Fall Victim to Facebook Scams; Top 5 Bait Categories in Last 2 Years

Anyone could fall victim to Facebook scams, such as the classic “guess who viewed your profile” scam and others, Bitdefender behavior analysts warn. A two-year study by the antivirus software provider reveals that scammers infect millions of Facebook users with the same repackaged tricks. The team of behavior analysts and psychologists analyzed the five scam categories and revealed there is no such thing as a typical victim profile.

The biggest vulnerabilities appear because of general human dispositions that may hit any user at one point in his life,” Bitdefender Behavior Analyst Nansi Lungu said. “It’s hard for us to acknowledge our irrational behaviors, or that we’re blindly indulging in impulses we typically attribute to the less educated.”

Still, the psychological analysis revealed a strong correlation between victims and the less informed, especially when it comes to how Facebook works. While almost half of social media e-threats prey on users’ curiosity to check who viewed their profile, almost one in three scams attract victims with features Facebook doesn’t have, such as dislike buttons and different timeline colors.

Bogus giveaways, such as free Disneyland tickets and game points, account for 16.51 per cent of the numerous scams in the last two years, while celebrity sex tapes account for 7.53 per cent. Facebook scams are monetized through fraudulent surveys or Trojans mining for banking and browser passwords.

Though still a niche category, atrocity videos are gaining popularity, Bitdefender security researchers warn. “Like and share” schemes using horrendous images, such as maimed animals, suffering children, and tortured women, now account for almost 1 percent of all scams, according to the study. The latest example is a malicious “girl killed by her husband” video, infecting users with adware and malware.

Here are the five most popular categories of scam baits used by cyber-criminals to trick Facebook users in the last two years:

  1. Guess who viewed your profile? – 45.50%
  2. Facebook functionality scams – 29.53%
  3. Giveaway scams – 16.51%
  4. Celebrity scams – 7.53%
  5. Atrocity videos – 0.93%

Bitdefender advises users to keep their operating system, antivirus solution and other software updated, as hackers exploit vulnerabilities found on the system. Users should also avoid completing Facebook surveys and sharing or liking websites to view a video. And they should not install updates requested by viral videos. To raise awareness among Facebook users, the antivirus provider recently released its annual list of the top 10 scams making rounds on the social network.

The study was conducted on 850,000 scams spreading in countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Saudi Arabia since October 2012. For more information about the psychology behind Facebook scam victims, check Bitdefender’s whitepaper.

You may also check this easy to read infographic:

Facebook Scams – Infographic

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About the author


Bianca Stanescu, the fiercest warrior princess in the Bitdefender news palace, is a down-to-earth journalist, who's always on to a cybertrendy story. She's the industry news guru, who'll always keep a close eye on the AV movers and shakers and report their deeds from a fresh new perspective. Proud mother of one, she covers parental control topics, with a view to valiantly cutting a safe path for children through the Internet thicket. She likes to let words and facts speak for themselves.

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  • I got a new laptop and equipped it with Bitdefender. I keep getting notifications about 3 “Hey guys find out who is seeing your profile :)–>” infected links. I’ve looked and can’t find them anywhere and have no idea how to get rid of them… any suggestions?