Crooks cheating holiday planners on Facebook

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SYDNEY - Online cheats are hacking into accounts of people who post their holiday plans on Facebook and are posing as their friends to cheat them of their money, Australia’s national consumer regulator said Tuesday.

The hackers are using vacationers’ travel information to send bogus pleas for help, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) deputy chairman Peter Kell said.

“They say, ‘Look, I’ve got an emergency here; I’ve lost my wallet’, targeting friends. That’s seen people lose hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Kell was quoted as saying by the AAP news agency.

Consumer protection agencies from over 40 countries are cooperating in an effort to disrupt or close down online criminal rackets.

They are also focusing to prevent scams aimed at young people, who unwittingly give their credit card and bank details to crooks.

The agencies are monitoring dubious online classified sites selling pets, cars, jobs and rental accommodation.

Fake fan sites for celebrities offering bogus concert tickets, dodgy travel websites and SMS messages telling people they have won prizes are also in their sight.

“These scammers are now very professional,” Kell said.

“They’re part of international criminal networks and the sites that they put up look as legitimate and as professional as the real thing, they can be very difficult to spot,” he said.

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