The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 10, 2013

Morrisey: Beware of social media scams

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — The old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, has been revived in the modern arena of social media networks.

Specifically, scams are abundant on such sites as Facebook, touting “free money” and other sweet deals, then demand that anyone applying for them forward personal information.

“Any offer that seems too good to be true, typically is,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Thursday, repeating the familiar old warning.

Morrisey said his office has been called often of late by residents wanting to know if messages that surfaced on the network accounts are for real.

At times, such offers appeared to have been forwarded by friends of acquaintances, showing how they came into huge sums of money from a federal agent representing an empowerment program, the attorney general said.

As long as the reader is willing to put up a “shipping fee” ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, which is sought in a wire transfer service, the payoff can run from $50,000 to $150,000 in cash — or so one is told.

“These types of scams are very convincing because they start with a message that appears to come from a social media friend, and they involve conversations back and forth through ongoing messages,” Morrisey said.

Consumers need to be skeptical about any offer for “free money” that just appears out of nowhere provided the reader pays an upfront fee to stake a claim to “winnings,” he warned.

A red flag should go up immediately when such offers use pseudonyms rather than actual names.

Moreover, he said, one should never share personal information, including date of birth, bank account and Social Security numbers, with callers or those who post on social media.

“As technology changes, so do the ways scammers try to con people out of their money,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia citizens need to be vigilant and always wary of anything, even messages on social media that offer windfalls of cash and prizes.”

Morrisey invited anyone who feels victimized by such scams to call his Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.

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