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November 6, 2014

Beware Facebook’s 850,000 scams

Scams unearthed by Bitdefender include false giveaways, celebrity news exploitation and profile tracking.

By Jimmy Nicholls

A Facebook study by the security company Bitdefender has unearthed 850,000 scams running on the social network, dividing into five distinct trends.

Almost half of the scams pretended to allow users to track their profile views, an offer the company said was popular among people wishing to see if former lovers were keeping tabs on them.

"The biggest vulnerabilities appear because of general human dispositions that may hit any user at one point in his life," the report said.

"Of course, it is hard to acknowledge, even towards ourselves, that we may have irrational behaviours or that we are blindly indulging in impulses we typically attribute to the less educated or the less informed."

Nearly a third of the scams offered extra functionality such as colour changes or adding new "dislike" or "love" buttons. Other trends identified included false giveaways accounting for 16.5% of all scams, celebrity news exploitation which accounted for 7.5%, and atrocity video exploitation which made up less than 1%.

While Bitdefender did try to create a profile of the most likely victims, they discovered that the range of people falling for the scams was too wide for the exercise to be useful.

"Anyone could fall victim to a Facebook scam at one point in his life, as cyber-criminals always pull the right psychological triggers," the report added.

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