Ministry warns of scams on social networking sites

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 - Page 4

Facebook and other social networking sites have become a convenient channel for fraudsters to acquire the personal data of people from who they plan to swindle money, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned.

The ministry said that it has recently received reports of fraudulent activities in which victims received telephone calls, e-mails or text messages from fraudsters who claimed to be the victim’s friends, relatives or children working or studying overseas in need of urgent financial assistance because they had been robbed, hospitalized, kidnapped or arrested.

After probing into the reports with the assistance of its overseas offices, the ministry said, they have found that most of the telephone calls, e-mails and text messages came from fraudsters who had “stolen” personal and communications data from their targets’ friends, relatives or children living overseas through popular social networking sites like Facebook.

Fraudsters also try to convince their targets’ relatives or friends overseas into shutting off their telephones so that the victims cannot reach them for verification, the ministry said.

Some people have been tricked into transmitting money to a bank account designated by a fraudster, it added.

To avoid becoming victims of such scams, people who travel overseas for business or study should keep in close contact with their family in Taiwan, the agency advised. It added that users of social networks should reinforce measures to prevent data about friends and family from being leaked.