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Facebook Scam: You Won 50-Grand, But First... - Jun. 13, 2014

Maine State Police are investigating a scam on Facebook and want people to know about it.

Facebook can be a fun place sometimes -- but like anything else you have to keep your guard up --- just in case -- because sometimes things are not always as they seem.  

On Facebook, sometimes you'll get a "friend request" from someone who is already on your "friends list."  Before accepting them all over again, confirm it was actually your friend who sent the request -- not an imposter up to no good.

An imposter might want to scam your friends by solicting money -- spread viruses and SPAM or have something else in mind ....

There's no end to things scammers will try ..and we have an example.

What appears to be your friend but probably an imposter  just sent you some startling news -- you've won a contest  -- and a prize of $50,000 plus a laptop!  All you need to do is go to a certain site to get the details. You have to message back and forth with people who say you won something -- but before you can get your winnings you have to send them money first.

That should be a red flag.

If you didn't check first to see if this was a real message from your real friend -- you might be tempted to go for it. But don't, it's scam.

Maine State Trooper Kim Sawyer tells WQDY NEWS she knows of two people locally that have run into these scammers and wants others to be aware.

Sawyer said a woman was contacted by "one her friends on her list." They told her, "you won something and you've got to go to this site."  They were doing it by Facebook messaging," Sawyer explained.

"She clicked on the (site) and asked 'did I win?'  'Hold on -- yes. But first you'll need to pay shipping and state fees and all this other  kind of stuff so we're going to need $1300 before we can send you your $50,000 plus your new laptop," Sawyer said.

This happened to someone else about two weeks ago but they didn't fall for it, said the trooper.

Unfortunately, a woman in Machiasport did.

"She actually sent them $1,300 by Western Union and they told her 'oh yeah, you'll get your money the next morning.' Then the next morning comes and 'oh yeah, it'll be 2:30.' and the the back and forth messaging continued. "Then, 'now we're going to need another 700-something dollars -- and when the money arrives we'll need another 300.' At that point, she realized something was probably going on and called us," Sawyer said.

"The other person this happened to was in Princeton. They knew there was something funny and they started doing some digging on their own."

That Facebook user realized the friend they got the message from was indeed an imposter -- but were able to provide some contact information to Trooper Sawyer who tried reaching out to the scammers by leaving her phone number.

She left her number --- from the Maine State Police.

"Of course they never contacted me back," she said. "It was just to see if they'd call me back -- but they didn't. But these unfortunate souls who do that, there's a good chance that their money will never be recovered."

The scammers repeatedly warned the Machiasport woman not to tell anyone else about her prize winnings, or she'd be disqualified.

"To me it would be a heads up," Sawyer said.

The victim said the scammers didn't ask for any Social Security numbers.

"They did ask for email, phone numbers, dates of birth, addresses, that kind of thing but not a Social Security number or a bank account. That was another reason why she thought this must be okay."   

The victim was in contact with a man who sent her an email with a certificate showing that she won the $50,000.

"He said he worked for the American Commission Agency and Facebook Company from United Nations. They tried to make it sound official but that's what scammers do," said Trooper Sawyer.

So if you get one of these second friend requests from somebody who is already your friend and if they say 'have I got a deal for you and send you to some site where you can win 50-grand but first you have to sned them a couple of thousand dollars -- don't do it! 

STORY: Tom McLaughlin WQDY-WALZ news@wqdy.fm