Newest Social Net Scam: Stranded Friend
The FBI and its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says they are seeing an uptick in the complaints about online scammers trying to steal your money posing as a good friend left stranded somewhere in need of quick cash.
The IC3 said it is getting reports of individuals' e-mail or social networking accounts such as Facebook being compromised and used in a social engineering scam to swindle consumers out of thousands of dollars. Portrayed as the victim, the hacker uses the victim's account to send a notice to their contacts. (See also "The 5 Toughest Internet Scams.")
The notice claims the victim is in immediate need of money due to being robbed of their credit cards, passport, money, and cell phone; leaving them stranded in London or some other location. Some claim they only have a few days to pay their hotel bill and promise to reimburse upon their return home. A sense of urgency to help their friend/contact may cause the recipient to fail to validate the claim, increasing the likelihood of them falling for this scam, the IC3 stated.
Simply one can verify the situation by calling the friend or confirming the situation before sending any money.
Online scams like the "stranded" con plague the Internet and continue to make scammers money. The FBI reported total online fraud losses of almost $560 million in 2009, more than double the tally for 2008.