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Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Woman wires US$4,000 in Facebook scam

AP , ST LOUIS, MISSOURI

A Missouri woman was tricked into wiring about US$4,000 to someone in Britain after receiving faked messages from a friend on Facebook asking for help, police said Wednesday.

Jayne Scherrman of Cape Girardeau wired the money through Western Union after receiving what she believed were several requests for help from her friend, Sergeant Jason Selzer said.

Police were notified about the scam on Aug. 26, Selzer said. They believe someone took over the Facebook account of a Cape Girardeau County resident, Grace Parry, changed the password so she couldn’t access it and sent out messages saying she and her husband had been detained in London and needed money.

Scherrman said received a message on Aug. 25 from Parry saying she needed help. Scherrman, a pediatric dentist, said Parry and her minister husband go on mission trips, so she didn’t think it unusual that they might be in Britain.

She figured they really needed assistance if they could only reach her electronically and expected they’d pay her back quickly.

She originally was told electronically they needed US$600 for a hotel and taxis. Then she was told it wasn’t enough with the exchange rate. Finally, she was told by a caller that the couple had been detained and more money was needed to help them fly home.

Scherrman asked to speak with her friend, but was told she wasn’t available. She also got a name from the caller and tried to get an address when she realized she might have been scammed.

By then, she had wired nearly US$4,000 through three Western Union transfers, she said.

Parry said another friend from Mississippi also sent US$600.

Parry, who hadn’t traveled to Britain in years, tried to access her account to warn other friends but couldn’t. She asked Facebook to suspend her account and her husband posted warnings about the scam, including one Scherrman received after she’d sent the money.

“It’s just sad because they work on people’s compassion and Jayne’s a very compassionate person,” Parry said.

Selzer said people should remember to change their passwords often and to be careful about posting personal information.

Facebook said Internet schemes like this one aren’t uncommon. Facebook has systems to detect suspicious behavior tied to compromised accounts and blocks it when it possible.

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