An elderly P.E.I. woman who thought she was chatting with a trusted friend on Facebook messenger has been defrauded of thousands of dollars.
Summerside Police are warning Islanders of the scam after the woman became suspicious and reported the incident — but only after she paid the fraudster $8,000.
The fraudster had created a clone profile from the woman's list of Facebook friends, police said. The imposter told her he had won the lottery, and when he was on the website, he saw her name listed as a winner too.
The victim told police she followed up and confirmed her name was in fact included on the website. She then followed the instructions provided for redeeming her prize.
The victim was instructed to communicate through email with the fraudster, who advised her she must send a sum of money before her prize could be released.
Requested third payment
Several days later, the fraudster told the victim she would have to pay a tax to the IRS before they would allow her prize package to leave the U.S. The woman followed these instructions, sending the additional wire transfer as directed.
When the fraudster contacted the victim requesting a third payment for an insurance fee, she called police.
Tips to avoid fraud
Police have offered the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud:
- Do not approve a Facebook "friend request" from someone you do not know.
- If you receive a Facebook friend request from someone you thought you were already Facebook friends. with, do not add them before checking into it. An easy way to do this is call your friend and ask them if they recently tried to add you. This alerts them as well to the possibility that someone has tried to clone their account.
- Report the incident to Facebook through their "Report a problem" tab.
- Never send money to individuals/businesses of which you are unsure.
- Be cautious of online lotteries.
- If you are unsure about a situation, ask a trusted friend or police for advice.
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