Increased scam risk from Facebook's oversight

Increased scam risk from Facebook's oversight

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Published on:

February 19, 2021

Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber support service, IDCARE.org, has strongly condemned Facebook’s decision to remove the charity’s Facebook site content.

Since December, IDCARE has been engaging with Facebook, attempting to get the social media giant to provide guidance for the increasing number of people who contact our National Case Management Centre because of some cyber incident enabled by Facebook account exploitation. This is either people who have been caught out in scams they’ve encountered on the platform, or it is people who have discovered their social media profiles have been cloned and used by criminals.

In the past three months (1 October 2020 to 31 December 2020) our charity has had 1,248 engagements from members of our community who have experienced some kind of cyber issue enabled by Facebook. These clients recorded a $2.75 million net loss due to scams promoted on Facebook. Around 25% of reports from community members involved scams on Facebook Marketplace. And 14% of community members engaging IDCARE were clients who experienced their Facebook account being hacked or compromised.

These people were particularly frustrated at the inability to actually talk with someone at Facebook to report crimes experienced and share the pain of being victimised. In some cases community members were expressing to IDCARE that the effects were ruining their business, their livelihood and exposing their customers, friends and relatives to crime. This was drawn to Facebook’s attention and, in January, Facebook provided IDCARE with a “how to report guidance for scams” we shared on our social media platforms to better protect and inform their users.

“We felt like we were starting to get some headway and could provide better support and hope for people who were experiencing crimes enabled via Facebook”.  

“At present this option is no longer available as Facebook has removed our response content”, said Dr David Lacey, Managing Director of IDCARE.

It is also disappointing Facebook has the ability to take down pages belonging to charities with no notice, yet IDCARE hears from members of the community who have had to wait months for fraudulent accounts which impersonate them to be taken down.

One client, Johnny Rizk, has allowed IDCARE to share his story of how he has been trying to have a fake Facebook profile, created in his name, taken down as it was selling items that did not exist. The profile didn’t only use his name and image, but that of his wife and young child.

He says he has attempted to contact Facebook numerous times to address the issue as he continued to get phone calls from people who thought he was the criminal as they bought items from the fake page created in his name.

“To have that removed is doing a disservice to our community and making people more vulnerable to those who prey on others using Facebook’s services. Scammers win because people don’t know what the scam is about. Getting these messages out to the very users of Facebook was a key measure for IDCARE and our community” said Dr Lacey.

IDCARE wrote to Facebook again on 9 February, requesting assistance in creating public awareness and managing the case management load caused by scams on their platform.

To date, there has been no response to this email and the only action taken by Facebook to address this issue is to take down our Facebook content where we had an ability to inform the large population on the site about scam awareness.

IDCARE has approached Facebook this afternoon, informing them of their oversight in taking down the content of our page. To its credit, a spokesperson from Facebook did respond and apologise for the inconvenience. IDCARE’s Facebook page is now under review.

IDCARE’s interview with Mr Rizk can be heard below.

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