Private Facebook message purporting to be from a friend of the recipient claims that the sender’s house is burning to the ground. The recipient is invited to click a link to see footage of the fire.
The message comes from a hijacked Facebook account. The friend’s house is not burning and there is no video. Those who click the link will be taken to a bogus Facebook page designed to steal their Facebook login details. And, those who do log in on the fake page will then be redirected to another page that claims that they must download a YouTube Player update before they can view the fire video. However, clicking the “update” link can install malware on the user’s computer.
Users have reported receiving private Facebook messages claiming that a friend’s house is burning to the ground. The message asks users to click a link to check out the fire.
However, there is no fire. The message comes from a hijacked Facebook account belonging to a friend of the recipient. If the recipient falls for the ruse and clicks the link, he or she will be taken to a bogus webpage designed to look like a normal Facebook login page. A message on the page will claim that the user must log in to see the desired content.
If the user enters login details and presses the “login” button, he or she will be redirected to another bogus webpage that claims that a YouTube Player must be installed.
However, downloading the supposed YouTube update will install a trojan on the user’s computer. Typically, such trojans can harvest information from the compromised computer and allow criminals to control the computer remotely.
Meanwhile, the scammers can use the information stolen via the fake Facebook login page to hijack genuine Facebook accounts. Once in the compromised accounts, the scammers can lock out the rightful owners and use the accounts to send out more of the same “My home is burning” scam messages. Thus, the cycle continues.
This campaign is similar to earlier phishing and malware attacks including one 2012 incarnation that was spread via Twitter direct messages.
As always, you need to use caution when following links in messages, even if the message appears to come from one of your friends. If the link leads to a page that asks you to login to one of your online accounts in order to see the promised content, be sure to use caution and common sense. Make sure that you are on the account’s legitimate login page rather than a fake phishing site.
In fact, it is safest to login to all of your online accounts by entering the address into your browser’s address bar rather than clicking a link in a message.
And, any message that claims that you must download a plugin or update to view a promised video or news article should be treated with suspicion.
Importance NoticeAfter 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 YouI 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 DateHoax-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!