Nigerian scams evolve to Facebook

Andrew Chisholm
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Charlottetown women had her identity stolen in an attempt to scam her online friends

Facebook

A Charlottetown resident did a double take when Facebook recommended she add herself as a friend.

Turns out someone in Nigeria created an account on the social networking site impersonating Judy Gillis in an attempt to scam her friends.

Now police in Charlottetown are warning tech-savvy residents to be on the lookout for duplicated accounts in their friend lists.

Two weeks ago, Gillis received a request to add a friend who was already on her Facebook.

She thought it was a little odd but accepted the request thinking the friend had maybe created a new account or accidentally ended their digital friendship.

A few days later, Gillis noticed her name and profile picture show up in Facebook’s friend recommendation tool.

“I thought it was strange, so I left it alone,” said Gillis.

Then she received a message from a friend telling her she could get $70,000 from the Canadian government if she made a $350 payment.

“It said you just needed to direct the money to this Gmail address so I though, ‘yeah, this is a scam’.”

Turns out she was right and the Government of Canada is not giving out large chunks of cash through an email address hosted by Google — federalgovernment91@gmail.com.

Gillis reported the strange behaviour to police after her friends started receiving messages from a person they thought was her.

These messages offered the same sweet deal — a cool $70,000 for $350.

Charlottetown police traced the scam to Lagos, Nigeria.

“Fraudsters are creating a Facebook account using a name and profile picture from an existing Facebook account,” police said in a news release. “Once this has been achieved, they attempt to solicit money from others using Facebook.”

What upsets Gillis the most is her reputation could have been on the line.

She works for the federal government so her friends may have believed the offer for easy money was true.

“If I say it then it must be true and they go and get taken and get mad at me,” she said.

Thankfully, that hasn’t happened, said Gillis.

“I’ve told my friends, as much as I can, to be very careful with their privacy settings online,” she said.

Organizations: Google

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Nigeria, Canada Lagos

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • AM
    August 28, 2013 - 10:33

    These folks are still in business. I received a call last night regarding a similar story about a survey for TD. PS. Facebook does have a great deal of private information, most of which is used for marketing purposes (ie. target better ways to sell you things). Facebook is part of the social media movement, and like it or not, and is a step in the evolution of culture and communication. That being said, I would caution people to be social media smart. Meaning, check privacy settings often, and restrict who can access your personal information and when. Don't post things that you wouldn't want your parents or boss to see. Consider apps that track your location and give too many personal details away; scammers and thieves can use this to info to steal your identity very easily.

  • anita teal
    April 02, 2013 - 03:33

    i believe i have been scammed how do i go about getting this person who has scammed me

  • Neutral Bystander
    November 07, 2011 - 19:10

    Re: When are you Facebook users gonna smarten up? Get with a life and get rid of that stuped Facebook nonsense. You will pay later and tooooo bad! Dummies! Before I open my insidious big mouth and call other people "Dummies", I would first note that the expression is "Get a life", not "Get WITH a life" and "stuped" is spelled "STUPID". It's almost amusing that an illiterate is calling someone else a dummy.

  • J Gillis
    July 01, 2011 - 19:52

    You know, it's a funny thing. Being called stupid in a public forum is one thing. I'll take that if it means more people are made aware of these scams. Good friends sent me copies of ver batim conversations between themselves and my impostor. There was also an email interchange between one individual and the gmail address, which a friend was kind enough to forward to me if it would help the police catch the scammer. There are hidden source codes in emails (even forwarded ones) that give those who know how, information on not only what country but what computer a particular email came from. Yes. Yes the fraudster did come from Nigeria. Police have confirmed it...you got your facts right, Andrew. And Google, parent of gmail, just happened to be the email service through which this fraudster tried this scam. It could just as easily have been hotmail, or yahoo. And nothing is to prevent him or her from taking his or her laptop to a different wireless connection and starting all over again. It's easy to figure out something is a scam when it's someone you don't know. But if someone using a friend's face and name comes to you - a wolf in sheep's clothing, the lines are a little blurred - well, let's just say I'd be careful calling you stupid.

  • SG
    July 01, 2011 - 15:20

    BEWARE I rec'd a suspicious call last evening from 1-855-496-4285 a young lady sounding quite inexperienced told me they were doing a research on Waste. There was a man at my door passing out flyers about waste the day before so I said ok. However, her first question was, what Bank Do You Use? I imediately answered what does that have to do with waste, I do not divulge any of my Banking Info to anyone. Good Bye. I later googled the number and found out many others had rec'd calls from this same number. However, some receiving calls were told it was a Survery by Toronto Dominion Bank and they could win cash or a trip by doing the survey! They checked with the TD Bank and were told they do not conduct third person surveys of any nature and this call was not made by them. On woman in Ontario rec'd a call from the same number and the caller asked for her daughter by name. The mother asked the reason for the call and was told she was selected and could win a cash prize. She reported the call to the TD Bank as well and was assured it was nobody from their Bank calling. SO BEWARE. If you get a call from 1-855-496-4285 Do Not Answser.

  • Mitch
    July 01, 2011 - 14:42

    TS eliot would rather the scammer show up to his door or call, much more personal.

  • Glen Lynch
    July 01, 2011 - 13:12

    Hey @ John Maciniss comment ... I think that # of dropped facebook users about 1% of accounts was the scammers who were caught ... How dumb are some people anyways to fall for scams without investigating. On-line scams are no different from your telephone marketing. they can't work if you'r not foolish enough to be out personnal infomoney !!!

  • Sylvia
    July 01, 2011 - 10:14

    I've been invited to join Facefook but have declined. Don't want to get involved with it. I have a few close friends & family members that I keep in contact with by e-mail and that's all I'm interested in. I think by joining Facebook I would give up the last crumb of privacy that I have.

  • Donnie
    July 01, 2011 - 10:06

    Hey G.D. Facebook; I'm sure you said the same thing when that new fangeled "television" thing came out...

  • PEI Scam Squad
    July 01, 2011 - 08:03

    Remember "if it sounds to good to be true... then it probably is". There are many FB scams. In the past there have been viral messages where once clicked you become a sender and part of the problem.. a post read " I can't believe so and so posted these pics. Once clicked you become part of the virus/phising email or mesage problem, that is looking for ID info or $$. FB is doing more on these but I have rcently seen these once again. FB is pretty good a shutting down false/imposter sites. Unfortunately many of these scams originate in south Europe or north africa and they are good at what they do. Delete, fix the problem with the server agency, and do not try to speak or deal with these scammers, leave that to the police,

  • fromPEI
    July 01, 2011 - 07:16

    @""G.D. Facebook: Just because you may be too senile to understand Facebook or the internet doesn't give you the right to call everyone using the service a dummy... Facebook is used for a lot more than scams. Perhaps there is a spelling program on there for you? I guess the education system wasn't as good back in your day. If you call something stupid or people "dummies", you should probably spell it correctly don't you think?

  • ade doyin
    July 01, 2011 - 06:57

    All I would say is to make sure you watch out for whoever you add as friends and double confirm it is somebody you know. It could be anybody and I did not see any facts that indicate that the person is a Nigerian. I would implore you, Mr. Andrew to get your fact right before you publish such piece.

  • John MacInnis
    July 01, 2011 - 06:24

    Facebook has been detrimental to many people's lives, and fraud schemes are only one of many potential disasters that lurk on that particular website. The old saying "if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is" should be modernized to "if it sounds to good to be true then it's definitely a scam". Facebook now has almost 700 million users, but the total number of American and Canadian users has dropped this year by almost seven million users. That's a good indication the site is commencing a fade to black, so scammers will be moving on to new sites to troll for new victims.

  • G.D. Facebook
    June 30, 2011 - 21:36

    When are you Facebook users gonna smarten up? Get with a life and get rid of that stuped Facebook nonsense. You will pay later and tooooo bad! Dummies!

    • leah leblanc
      July 01, 2011 - 05:51

      in reference to your comment G.D. it sounds like YOU need to get a life!!

    • Twitter
      July 01, 2011 - 06:06

      You Mad Bro?

    • TS Eliot
      July 01, 2011 - 07:03

      G.D.Facebook is correct!! What happened to the phone or personal contact????

    • LA
      July 01, 2011 - 11:30

      TS Eliot, he is not correct, it is none of his business how people choose to communicate. I bet he falls for scams over the phone. By the way, I have far more "contact" with old friends around the world now than the zero I would have had with them before Facebook. But if you'd rather fly to Europe or the US, of rack up a long distance bill to talk to friends who've scattered, fill your boots. I don't judge anybody's choice of communication tool. Neither should you.

    • LA
      July 01, 2011 - 13:18

      Eliot, you can pay for plane trips or long distance calls if you like. I'd rather keep up with my friends in far away places and see their children's pictures on Facebook for free. It's nobody's business how people choose to communicate. Props to GD Facebook for spelling "stupid" wrong too. Good one.