Anyway, LaWanda was just "checking in" to see how I was doing. And I thought, "Well, how nice!! This woman not only remembers me, but actually cares how I'm doing. Man, I must be a whole lot more personable than I thought!"
But it turns out that I'm not personable at all. My “friend” jumped right from "checking in" into wanting to know if I'd heard her good news—which turned out to be that she had won some sort of multi-thousand dollar lottery prize, using secrets that she was willing to share with me. Because I'm just so damned personable.
So, you know where this is going . . . . When I received the second message, I realized that someone was trying to scam me. And I also remembered that a few weeks before this, I had accepted a "friend" request from LaWanda, even though we were already friends. I would like to say that I accepted the duplicate request because I had thought about it and assumed that for some reason she had had to start a new FB account, but in truth, I'm just old and forgetful, and I can barely remember the name of my dog. (It's "Annie,” OK? The dog's name is "Annie." I'm just making a point here; work with me, alright?) Basically, I was on automatic pilot and didn't give it much thought; I knew LaWanda, and that was good enough for me. Click.
|Annie, protecting us from the evil squirrels.|
This sort of fakery (I almost typed something else there) has been going on for a while now. Facebook is terrible at policing itself and watching for this sort of thing. There are tons of scams littering everyone's favorite social network. Almost any time you see something like, "How many likes can we get for poor Fred here?" it's a scam of some sort. Poor Fred is almost certainly not stuck in some cancer or burn ward in a faraway hospital. (And if he were, your "likes" wouldn't help him. Also, his name's probably not Fred.) And you’re not going to get cheap Ray-Ban sunglasses, either. (You'll get cheesy knockoffs, if you get anything.) You’re also not going to win a red or blue Camaro, a Land Rover or Land Cruiser (not that I can ever remember which is which), an all-expenses paid 3-day trip to a tropical (or any) island, a classic 1970 Dodge Charger (though I would really, really like one of those), or a fancy motorhome. Nor are you going to win that free cross country flight on South West Airlines; the airline does not spell its name that way and its website is not at www.south-west-air.com or www.south-west-airlines.com, or any of a dozen other almost correct URLs.
Most of these things are either like-farming or survey scams. In a like-farming scam, the crook really just wants to collect as many "likes" and "shares" as he can, so that he can turn around and sell his “high volume” page to other scammers who will use it to do even worse things.
Yeah, you're not gonna win this (or any) Dodge
Charger. Sorry. Image courtesy of Brett
In other words, the Internet is full of lies. And liars. Which is too bad, because there really is some kid in a burn ward or cancer ward somewhere, and that kid really does deserve our "likes" and maybe even our money, but it's almost impossible to figure out which one of the FB posts about him is legit.
All of this boils down to, “Mom was right.” If something sounds too good to be true, guess what? It’s not true. (Mom is almost always right. She’s the mom, after all.)
Trust Mom. (And also Snopes.com and Hoax-Slayer.com.)
NEXT WEEK: The Internet: Making smart people do stupid things since 1590.