Graham Cluley, an independent security expert and former consultant at security firm Sophos, says that the rise of social networks has made it easy for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting users.
"Before social networking, you had to consciously forward an email with malicious content to members of your address book," Cluley said. "But now with Facebook, it's just too easy to pass something along. You can click a link, 'like' a post or reshare something without thinking about the consequences. Before you know it, you've contributed to the problem and worsened the signal-to-noise ratio on the social network."
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Spotting Facebook scams can be easy if you know what to look for. Here are four common characteristics found in malicious posts, plus tips for how you can ensure you don't fall prey.
1. The Content Is Salacious
If a questionable post includes a level of shock, horror or salaciousness, be wary, Cluley said. You'll often find these types of posts promising a peek into celebrity sex tape or a video of something gruesome.
This type of content can disguise a clickjacking attempt, malware or phishing scheme. Pay particular attention to the language used and whether it's enticing you to click or take immediate action, Cluely said.
One recent scam preyed on actor Emma Watson, who starred as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. The Facebook post promises a clip of the actor in a leaked sex tape, and requests that you enter your information for "age verification," in addition to copying and pasting a script into your browser's address bar.
2. It Requires Extra Steps To View
Survey scams, which are popular on Facebook, ask you to complete a questionnaire in order to receive a prize, such as an iPad, or view a video, for example. These scammers make money by driving traffic to particular sites, Cluley says.
One recent example preyed on Costco customers. A widely circulated post read, "Claim your Free $500 Costco Voucher Now. Only a few left." Clicking on the post asked you to share the "offer," post something nice about Costco and like a Facebook page.
But Costco wasn't behind the bogus Facebook page -- scammers were, hoping to direct you to websites hosting surveys, earning them commission.
"Look at the content of the message and ask, 'What am I going to get from this?'" Cluley said. "If it asks you to install software or take a survey or reshare a message before you've seen what you expect to see, that's when an alarm bell should ring."