Don’t fall for Facebook ‘Christmas bonus’ scam

FILE - Facebook (AP Photo/James H. Collins)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – It’s that time of year when some businesses hand out Christmas bonuses. Scam artists know this and take advantage of people, especially on Facebook, which could be billions of people.

Scam artists look for vulnerable Facebook users and once they successfully clone someone’s Facebook page, they’re in business.

Business is good this time of year for crooks. Their scam is to get a bite on their phony message of “good tidings” that you’ve won money.

Every morning before she goes to work, Cindy Fowler goes online to check her Facebook page. Earlier this month, she got an intriguing post from Piper Terry, a friend of a friend.

“It tells me I won $25,000 on a Christmas bonus,” said Fowler. “Says, ‘I’m so happy I got $25,000 in cash from Facebook in an ongoing seasonal Facebook Christmas bonus promotion.’ And I asked him, ‘Who is behind this money?’ Then he proceeded to tell me, ‘It’s Facebook Freedom award promotion in collaboration with Powerball Management.’ People see that and they’ll say it’s Powerball. It’s got to be up and up, it’s Powerball. It’s not Powerball.”

Fowler suspected the deal was phony when in his text messages Piper Terry asked for personal information.

“That they wanted my mother’s name, my e-mail address, my occupation, how much I make. I’m like, no, I’m not giving that information out,” she said.

Last year, Brenda Parton received a similar Christmas bonus message on Facebook. it came from her friend Joyce, or so she thought.

“Well it wasn’t an hour after I had friended her that she sent me a message on messenger. She asked me if I had got my Christmas bonus,” said Parton.

“Joyce” told Parton she had won $50,000 dollars and an Apple laptop. Parton replied saying she had not heard of a Facebook christmas bonus.

“She told me to go to the Facebook agent.”

The agent, James Hall, texted Parton saying she was on the winning list, but Parton figured out it wasn’t real when Hall started asking her for money,

Facebook’s website has plenty of warnings about the profitable and prolific scam. Someone had cloned the website of Parton’s friend and Fowler’s friend stealing the image and information.

“I know from your television stories that this is not normal. And I told them right out, I believe this is a scam. I believe you are going to hurt people,” said Fowler.

At this time of the year, messages about the so called Christmas bonus may show up on your phone or from a so-called Facebook friend.

“I would delete it and forget it. there is nothing free in life, I have found that out,” said Parton.

“And if you actually won that kind of money, they wouldn’t ask for your occupation. They wouldn’t ask for your mother’s maiden name, or your mother’s name. And I’m not doing it, I’m not giving this information away,” said Fowler.

With 1.5 billion Facebook accounts activated worldwide, hackers have no shortage of targets. Online identity thieves are often difficult to track down because they operate across state lines or usually in a foreign country.

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