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Young at risk of social media scammers

Young New Zealanders are being urged to check their social media privacy settings to prevent scammers hijacking their accounts.

Bronwyn Groot, Fraud Education Manager at the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) is highlighting the risk as part of Cyber Smart Week, run by fellow government agency CERT.

Groot says that no-one is immune from being scammed, and parents should not assume their teens or young adult children are tech-savvy enough to protect themselves fully online.

Open social media accounts allow scammers to steal photos to use in other frauds, and gather information about a person to use in “social engineering”.

Groot gives the example of a young PA or accounts person who might receive an email that looks like it is from their boss, greeting them by name and asking them about an activity they posted about at the weekend, and then asking them to transfer money to a certain account.

“The message is personal and looks genuine so the young person doesn’t think twice about meeting their boss’s request,” says Groot.

Messaging apps can also be hacked.

“I heard of one case of a 21-year-old whose Messenger was hijacked and a request for money sent to all his friends. The language used even sounded like him,” says Groot.
In another case, Groot was called by a family member whose relative was caught in a romance scam. A man had approached the 20-year-old through her open facebook page, claiming to an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan. He won her trust, then claimed to be in hospital and in need of money.

“She was sending him most of her wages until I was able to track the messages and show her they were coming from a person in Nigeria who had used the same scam on other women around the world,” says Groot.

She advises everyone to regularly check their security settings on their social media accounts, and not set them to “public” without good reason. Parents should remind their children, and warn them of the need to stay vigilant to scam attempts.

For more information on how to prevent frauds and scams, visit cffc.org.nz

For tips on how to be Cyber Smart visit cert.govt.nz

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