Person using Facebook on Phone
Home ScamsAdvance Fee Scams Advance Fee Scammers Targeting People Via Facebook Messenger

Advance Fee Scammers Targeting People Via Facebook Messenger

by Brett M. Christensen

Image: &copy depositphotos.com/ArturVerkhovetskiy

Scammers continue to trick unwary Facebook users into handing over their money and personal information by falsely claiming that they have won a large cash prize. 

A scammer, posing as one of your Facebook friends, contacts you via Facebook Messenger claiming that you may be eligible to receive a prize.  He or she urges you to contact a “Facebook agent” for more information.  The scammer claims that he or she has already received the prize money and has seen your name on a list of other people eligible for a payout.

Here’s a typical example:

Have you heard about Publishers Clearing House (PCH) In conjunction with facebook promotion trust fund. They are helping a lot of people with $80,000.00 cash

Because the message appears to come from somebody you already know, you may be more inclined to believe the claims and contact the agent.

If you do make contact, the “agent” will confirm that you have indeed won the promised cash and ask you to send your personal information so that the prize claim can be quickly processed.

However, you will then begin receiving messages claiming that you must send money upfront to cover various – entirely imaginary –  expenses such as taxes, insurance, or transaction fees.

If you send the requested funds, further demands for money will likely follow. Finally, the bogus “agent” will simply disappear with your money and you will no longer be able to contact them. You will never get your money back and, of course, you will never receive the promised prize, which never existed in the first place.

And, because they may have managed to collect a large amount of your personal information during the scam, the criminals may also be able to steal your identity. 

Scammers Use Cloned or Hijacked Facebook Accounts

So how do the scammers manage to trick people into believing that the messages come from one of their friends?

Often, the scammers will use cloned Facebook accounts to achieve this. Facebook cloning describes a technique in which scammers create a fake Facebook profile by using images and other information stolen from a targeted user’s real Facebook profile. Once the scammers have created a fake profile, they can send friend requests to people on the targeted person’s friends list.

At least a few of the victim’s friends may accept this second friend request because they mistakenly believe that the victim has accidentally unfriended them. Or, people with a large number of Facebook friends may have forgotten that they were already friends with the victim and accept the second friend request.

The scammer can then begin sending messages to the people who have accepted the second friend request. These people will likely believe that the message really is from their friend.

In other cases, the scammers may have hijacked a Facebook account via a phishing scam.  Once they have gained access to the compromised account, the scammers can use it to send the fake prize messages to all of the people on the account’s friends list.

Variations of these advance fee scams are also distributed via email and text message.

Be wary of any message that claims that you are eligible to receive a large cash prize or grant from Facebook. Facebook does not randomly distribute cash prizes to its users and there is no such thing as a Facebook lottery, grant, or award.

If you receive one of these messages, do not respond. And, if you suspect that a friend’s account has been cloned or hijacked, let him or her know as soon as possible. You may need to make contact outside of Facebook to ensure that you are talking to your real friend and not the scammer.

Further Reading



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer