ny big event, from local to international interest, creates opportunities hackers can’t pass up. It has happened with World Cup and the Olympics, and even after the death of celebrities. Sadly, even the birth of a baby isn’t safe from internet scams. The arrival of Baby Archie of Sussex, born to the Royal Family, has prompted countless scams as the world clamors to know more about him. Facebook users have felt the burn of recent hustles that take advantage of the buzz surrounding the Royal Family’s newest edition. It’s a bleak reminder that online scammers will use any ruse, no matter how low it goes, to swindle unsuspecting users.
In the case of Baby Archie, a Facebook bait and switch campaign is currently a royal success. The buzz around the baby is at the heart of a Facebook “bait and switch” campaign. It relies on a fake link to a very fake website promising exclusive footage of the newborn. Once a Facebook user clicks on the link (the bait), they receive a message saying their video player needs updating to proceed. Once the user moves forward with the “updated” video download (the switch), a data-stealing virus starts compromising the system, scanning your device for personal information including bank account and credit card numbers–and of course, your contacts. From there, the scammer posts similar promises about Royal Baby footage to your friends and other Facebook contacts, creating a viral web of potential victims.
Unfortunately, we know the Royal Baby isn’t the only source for online scams and hacks. Anything newsworthy can be used to target those who want to know more or help with a crisis of any kind. Online fund raising efforts are fraught with scammers pretending to be a legitimate source for donations. Financial gifts that help with natural disasters and other events where the public wants to help are a particularly ripe target for scams. As with any newsworthy buzz, there are inevitably those looking to benefit from it.
When a social media friend shares a newsy link, message the friend and ask for more details. If there’s no response, assume a hacker was on the receiving end of your request and your friend’s account is compromised. Don’t hesitate to tell friends directly about your suspicion, as it’s likely other contacts have been hijacked as well. If you have the slightest inkling a social media post is questionable, report it to the platform provider, as they will investigate it further. Remembering to keep your social media scam-antenna set on high at all times.