Alerts

Status Update: with Aggressive Scam in Your Account

New breed of survey scam combines fraudulent check-ins and posting to take social accounts by storm

Starlet of the moment caught red handed? Outrageous act of cruelty? Unbelievable natural phenomenon? Forget about the classics of scam baits. A new era begins: the message that appeals to your deepest positive values. You know… justice, freedom, bravery and the like. This time, it’s the “hero next to you” story:

There are several angles to any good story like this and the scammers seem to know it very well. Here come the scam bait variants, a stream of heart-rending headlines:

Guess the scammers are also careful about putting all their eggs in one basket so the good old “OMG!” trend survives this overflow of emotion:

As this variety of hook is bound to bring in a whole lot of fish, let’s see where this hero-loving crowd lands next. First stop, YouTube extension station.

The scam also has alternative routes in store so if you get to the YouTube Extension story, your friends might be targeted with a YouTube Player Update.

Don’t worry, you’ll all get THERE no matter which Install button you click. Your common destination is a quiz maze. No stories, no heroes, no purifying your soul while beholding the video proof of humanity’s ascent to the highest peaks of bravery.

“Is this all?”. Glad you asked, ‘cause that’s where the fireworks begin. Take a look at what happens in your account:
a.    this angel winged and devil horned scam’s just spread the word about our hero of the day on all of the pages you’ve ever liked, working up its way to wider audiences.

b.    the same double faced scam’s got a thing for the Check-in option of your status updates.

See the “with” mention in your post? You apparently say (in Facebook lingo, of course) that you’re accompanied by 35 friends and that you’ve all watched the video.

Interesting? Right you are. Apparently, this is the updated version of the tagjacking scheme. Instead of fraudulently tagging people in a photo/thumbnail of a video (a strategy rendered ineffective by the introduction of the Tag Review function), the scam simply checks all of your friends in.

Though this is quite an aggressive threat – 10 illicit posts per victim, on the average, plus countless other automatic posts on the pages the victims liked – you might solve at least part of the problem by adjusting the privacy settings of your account. Just go to Home-> Privacy Settings -> How tags work and click the Edit Settings button.

If you don’t want to disable the Friends can Check you into Places option altogether, just turn on the Tagline Review and you’ll be notified about and be able to review all of the post you’ve been tagged in. In other words, as the check-in option works like a tag, once your name appears as “with YOU” in a friend’s post you’ll know about it and be able to control it. Hence, if one of your friends falls for this scam, you’ll have your chance to stop it before it spreads from your account on as well.

Of course, a good Facebook account sanity strategy would rely first on your ability to spot baits, then on your refusing to install unauthorized add-ons/extensions or updates. The easier alternative would be to install Safego (so you’ll be reading social scam news just for fun :-)).

This article is based on the technical information provided courtesy of Tudor Florescu, BitDefender Online Threats Analyst.
All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author

Ioana Jelea

Ioana Jelea has a disturbing (according to friendly reports) penchant for the dirty tricks of online socialization and for the pathologically mesmerizing news trivia. From gory, though sometimes fake, death reports to nip slips and other such blush-inducing accidents, her repertoire is an ever-expanding manifesto against any Victorian-like frame of thought that puts a strain on online creativity. She would like to keep things simple, but she never does.