Teen Blackmail and More Scams on Facebook

Scammers leveraging Facebook users’ accounts and their social graphs had started off the new year with a bang, when they began hacking into accounts and using Facebook chat to solicit friends for money. These scammers are getting more aggressive in the past few days, taking to status updates feigning distress (typically in London) in order to reach out to multiple friends at once and using private messages and chat to follow up with those friends that fall for the ploy.

And today CNN mentions that even more are finding ways to take advantage of Facebook’s social network to scam users. 18-year-old Anthony Stancl of New Berlin, Wisconsin allegedly used a Facebook account to pose as a woman and get high school boys to send him naked photos of themselves. He then used the photos as blackmail in order to coerce the teen boys into sex acts with him, according to a criminal complaint.

While Stancl was arrested on 12 felony complaints, including sexual assault of a child younger than 16 and possession of child pornography, there’s little the U.S. legal system can do for those that are being scammed into sending money to “distressed and stranded” friends in London. Is this a growing concern for Facebook and its public image?

It is a concern for the rapidly growing social network. The CNN article goes on to note that Facebook is taking certain measures to better notify users to when their account is modified. Of course, the biggest problem for the users who’s accounts have been compromised is figuring out how to regain control of their accounts, and dealing with the social aftermath of communicating genuinely with friends.

In previous coverage of current Facebook scams I mentioned that one of Facebook’s priorities in handling the situation would need to be finding effective ways in which to communicate with users. And this is something that has been prevelent for all online social networks, and all web-based services that require account logins.

While there are some measures Facebook can take to deter scammers from being able to completely take over user accounts, web users still need to be aware of the perils that can take place when using online services. For the recent happenings at Facebook, be sure to verify strange messages from friends’ accounts by contacting that friend directly.

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