Being conned on Facebook

February 15, 2018 12:55 PM

You likely have a Facebook account. What if a friend sent you a private message telling you about a way to get thousands of dollars?  It must be true - right? A friend wouldn't defraud you.  

Think again. One Canandaigua man learned that not every Facebook friend is really your friend.

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Chris Hilarski is enjoying retirement after a decades-long career at Kodak.  Many of his friends worked at Kodak too, including a man who reached out to him Friday on Facebook's messenger app.

"He asked me - just wanted to know how I was doing, and I was so surprised.  I got right back to him,” said Hilarski.

Kevin told him he’s happy because “God has answered my prayers.”  He claimed he got a 90-thousand dollars federal grant from IMF and UNICEF. 

“Why would they give you a $90,000r grant?” Hilarski asked incredulously.  He says Kevin told him he could also apply by clicking on a link.

“’You'll get a friendly knock on your door," Hilarski remembers Kevin writing.

But Hilarski didn't click on the link.  Instead he googled it and found information about scams involving the International Monetary Fund.  So Hilarski warned his friend. But Kevin insisted it wasn't a scam writing, "Of course it's real."

"He (Kevin) keeps trying to encourage me to get this link,” Hilarski remembers.  “Kevin's not that way. I'm saying this to myself, ‘I have to make sure this is really Kevin.’"

So Hilarski asked Kevin questions that the real Kevin would know how to answer.

"’What building did we work in together?” Hilarski remembers typing.

That’s definitely a question that Kevin should know.  After all, the two friends worked together at the same Kodak building for some 30 years.  

But Kevin didn’t answer the question. That’s because the messages are not from Kevin.  It's a scammer using the real Kevin's profile picture.  There are tell-tale signs including the fact the scammer misspelled Kevin's name.  The scammer spelled it K-e-l-v-i-n, instead of K-e-v-i-n.

The scammer sent Hilarski a number to call.  News10NBC consumer investigator Deanna Dewberry called the number and got a voicemail.  The scammer refused to call her back.  Instead, he sent a text message saying to get a $10,000 grant, you must pay a clearance and processing fee of $550. 

Bingo.  That's how scammers take your money.  You pay the “processing fee” but never get the grant.

"You never should have to pay for anything that you've gotten as a grant or a winning or anything like that," said Hilarski.

Dewberry contacted Facebook.  A spokesman says they’re investigating the matter.  

The Better Business Bureau has gotten lots of complaints about this scam. With their help, here's Deanna’s Do List:

  • Never apply for a grant through Facebook.  The government will communicate with you by mail... not Facebook.
  • Never pay money for a government grant.
  • And if you have questions, pick up the phone and call the governmental agency.
  • If you suspect Facebook fraud, report it to Facebook


Deanna Dewberry

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