Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

While you might think that you wouldn’t fall for a scam on Facebook, experts say more and more people including millennials are becoming the victims here. What happens when a person you think is a Facebook friend turns out to be someone else?

Aisha Amin (Name changed) recently became the victim of a Facebook scam that took her completely off-guard. It all started when she found the profile of an old friend on Facebook. Aisha was on Facebook messenger when his friend’s name came up. Soon, Aisha started receiving Facebook messages from her friend, talking about a government grant she got through an ‘agent’ on Facebook.

Sure enough, the ‘agent’ then told Aisha that she could get financial assistance from the government by simply providing personal information, including her name, cell number, address etc. Aisha then had to send around 6000 AED as fees to receive around 300,000 AED as government grant money.

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The person with who Aisha was corresponding seemed like her friend, and she believed her ‘friend’ when she vouched for this ‘grant foundation’. Aisha immediately sent 6000 AED to ‘the foundation’, and waited for her grant to arrive!

When Aisha tracked down her friend Mahira (Name changed) on phone, Mahira immediately responded that Aisha had been scammed! It turned out that Mahira’s Facebook account was hacked by a scammer who locked her and quickly reached out to her family and friends to con her. Mahira then had to warn all her Facebook contacts not to share any of their information!

According to experts, scammers are using the trust you have on your Facebook friends for their own vicious motives.

Such scams are run by networks of fake Facebook profiles offering grants. If you run a Google Images search of pictures of people profiled in these fake Facebook accounts, you will realise that actually, they aren’t people who issue government grants.

The lesson: Facebook friend requests from seemingly old friends might be alluring, and you might be swayed away by emotions and feel like sharing personal information with them, but it’s very important to check because meeting an old friend online is not like meeting her in person. It might just be a fake account! How can you check if the friend is for real? The best way to do so is to ask a few questions that only your friend can answer – like what you called your favourite doll in your childhood?