CIB warns of impersonation scams on Facebook

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In this Oct. 30, 20197, file photo, an officer from the Criminal Investigation Bureau points to an unidentified Facebook page selling online goods. An estimated 193 Facebook hacking cases were reported to the government's 165 Anti-Fraud and Internet Scam Hotline between Oct. 23 and 29, and many involved impersonation scams. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) – An estimated 193 Facebook hacking cases were reported to the government’s 165 Anti-Fraud and Internet Scam Hotline between Oct. 23 and 29, and many involved impersonation scams, data from the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) showed Saturday.

Among the 193 cases, 128 involved fraudsters hacking into people’s Facebook accounts and then impersonating the individuals on Facebook to offer smartphones for cheaper than market value to their family members or friends, the CIB said.

The fraudsters also carried over the impersonations to the instant messaging app Line, where the victims would often finalize the details of the transaction with the seller.

Several incidents following that pattern were reported to the bureau recently, it said.

A 32-year-old housewife surnamed Chen (陳) noticed one of her “friends” selling iPhones on Facebook at a very low price and bought six phones for NT$43,000 (US$1,425), but she never received the products.

Two other females, surnamed Cheng (程) and Wu (吳), were also hooked by offers made by fraudsters pretending to be their Facebook friends, and completed their purchases via Line.

Neither received the goods they paid for. Cheng realized she had been scammed when she noticed her friend’s Facebook account had been shut down while Wu found out she was victimized by an impersonation scam after reporting the case to the bureau.

The CIB urged the public to use other methods to confirm with family members or friends that they are who they say they are before wiring money to complete a transaction.

The hotline 165 was set up to assist members of the public seeking advice should they be contacted by possible scammers or verifying or reporting if they have been cheated.

The bureau said people can combat fraud and internet scams by calling 165 or using the online reporting service at https://www.165.gov.tw/case_tell.aspx. 

By Liu Chien-pang and Isabel Wang