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Issue 113 - April 2011 - Page 10

Scammers Exploit 'Facebook Closing Down' Hoaxes via Rogue Apps

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Outline
Messages claim that Facebook is about to start closing accounts and that current users must follow a link to verify their accounts.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the messages are untrue. Facebook is not shutting down nor is it about to start closing user accounts without reason. Links in the posts open rogue Facebook applications that attempt to trick users into divulging personal information or signing up for expensive online and SMS services via bogus "surveys". The creators of these rogue apps are capitalizing on the widespread circulation of hoaxes that falsely claim that Facebook is soon to close.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



Last updated: 2nd March 2011
First published: 2nd March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Final Notice - Facebook Annoucement

Today Facebook made an official announcement about their current status. It seems that tomorrow, all accounts will be closed and no more accounts can be created.
[Link Removed[

Final Notice - Verify your account
The annoucement was made today, by Mark Zuckerberg.
On 1st March, Facebook will start to close all accounts

Facebook Final Notice Spam




Detailed Analysis
A number of messages posted on social network Facebook in recent weeks claim that Facebook is set to close down on a specific date or that users accounts will be deleted if the accounts are not "verified". These messages generally contain a link to a Facebook application that supposedly allows you to verify your account and therefore save it from impending closure.

However, Facebook is certainly not set to close down and users will not have their accounts deleted if they do not verify their accounts. In fact, the links in these messages point to rogue Facebook applications that attempt to trick users into divulging their personal information via bogus "survey" and "free offer" websites.

Facebook Survey Links
Bogus "Verification" survey links
Those who fall for the ruse and follow the link in these spam posts will be asked to give permission for the rogue application to access their accounts. Once this permission is provided, the app will immediately repost the "Facebook closing down" message to the user's wall along with another link back to the rogue app. It will then present a pop-up window (see screenshot on right) that claims that the user must complete one or more "surveys" before his or her account can be verified.

Typically, a user who clicks one of the links will be taken to a third-party website where he or she will first be asked to fill in a form that requests name and contact information. After submitting this information, the user will then be presented with a series of "offers", "surveys" and "competition entries" that request more information such as mobile phone numbers, occupation and income details. Some note in the "fine print" at the bottom of the webpage that by entering the competition or participating in the "offer", the user is giving permission for his or her email address and phone numbers to be shared with marketing companies or "site partners". Others try to trick users into signing up for absurdly expensive SMS "services" that are billed at several dollars per text. And, each time that you complete one of these surveys or offers the scammer who created the app will earn a commission for his trouble.

During testing, I completed several of these supposed "verification" surveys. Nonetheless, I was always presented with a further popup window that claimed that I had not successfully completed a survey and invited to "try again". In fact, it appears that, with most of these rogue applications, the supposed verification process is never successfully completed.

And, in any case, no account verification process is required to begin with. As noted, Facebook is not removing unverified accounts and is not about to close down. Moreover, if for some reason Facebook did require a user to verify an account, it certainly would not require that user to install an application and participate in surveys or offers hosted on third party websites. The claims in these messages are lies designed only to trick users into visiting spam survey websites.

Ironically, those responsible for this spam attack are in fact exploiting a long running series of hoaxes that have falsely claimed that Facebook will shut down or delete accounts unless users repost the message to others. One widespread version, which has been circulating since at least 2007, claims that Facebook is becoming overpopulated and that users must send on the message to a certain number of others or risk losing their account. Another more recent message that began life as a bogus "news" article, claims that Facebook will shut down for good on 15th March 2011. These warnings are nothing more than silly pranks and have no factual basis whatsoever. However, scammers have been able to capitalize on these prank messages by using them as vehicles to drive users to their rogue applications.

If you see one of these bogus "Facebook verification" posts, do not follow any links that the message may contain.

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Facebook Deleting Inactive Users Hoax
Hoax - Facebook Shutting Down on March 15
Facebook will close all accounts today? Rogue app spreads virally




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Issue 113 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. "Photo U Got Tagged In" Rogue App
  2. Internet Rumour: Ramsgate Abduction Attempts - Man With Grey Hair & Glasses Driving a Red Car
  3. Little Rupert The One Pound Deer
  4. Is Lemon A Cancer Killer That is 10,000 Times Stronger Than Chemotherapy?
  5. Modelling Agency Overpayment Scam
  6. Japanese Tsunami 'Whale into Building' Clickjacking Scam
  7. Hacker Warning Hoax - Do Not Accept Friend Requests From Bobby Roberts
  8. DHL Notification Malware Email
  9. Crosses on the Beach at Santa Barbara - ACLU Suit Against Military Crosses And Prayer in the Military?
  10. Scammers Exploit 'Facebook Closing Down' Hoaxes via Rogue Apps
  11. July 2011 - 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays
  12. Craigslist iPad Giveaway Survey Scam
  13. Buscopan Syrup Recall Warning
  14. Facebook 'Virus Alert' - Charlie Sheen Found Dead
  15. White Van with Red Dragon Abduction Alert Messages
  16. Crocodile In Sugar Mill Sump
  17. Australian Tax Refund Scam Email
  18. Dog Comes Home With Deadly Snake Around His Snout
  19. Bogus Hacker Warning - &#039 Between First and Second Names in Facebook Chat
  20. False Virus Warning - Do Not Add "Smartgrrl15" Because Its a Virus
  21. New Prison Photographs - Prison vs Work
  22. Pepsi Can Email Hoax
  23. False Story Claims 450 Gaza Grooms Wed Girls Under Ten in Mass Muslim Marriage
  24. Baby Pacey Moore Prayer Request
  25. Slow Dance Charity Hoax
  26. Fake BBC News Alert Warns of Radiation Rain in Asian Countries
  27. Yahoo Account Phishing Scam Email