REGIONAL: Pensioner conned in Facebook '˜competition' scam

A Hampshire pensioner has spoken out after getting caught up in a social media scam carried out by people claiming to represent Facebook.

Wednesday, 15th March 2017, 10:39 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:02 am

Michael Thomas, from Southampton, was sent an email by someone who told him they were from the competitions department at the popular networking site.

In the message she said Mr Thomas had won a $500,000 prize from the website, but to collect it he needed to transfer £360 to pay for the cheque to be couriered from America.

But despite transferring the money online, Mr Thomas received a second email a day later telling him the cheque had been stopped at airport security, and a further £1,500 was needed so it could be cleared.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, Mr Thomas said: ‘The first thing she said was that Facebook ran a competition and that they like to thank their members.

‘The computer randomly selects a name and the person wins one of their prizes.

‘One of the conditions was that you had to pay for the delivery because it was coming from the States.’

After receiving the second email the pensioner contacted Facebook directly by email.

Three days later he received a reply confirming the website did not have a competitions department, and the con was reported to the police.

Mr Thomas said: ‘That was when I stopped. I did not go any further.’

Sarah Cohen, a crime prevention advisor at Hampshire Constabulary, told the broadcaster that this type of scam, known as ‘advance fee fraud’, was becoming more popular among con artists.

She warned people to be suspicious if people contacting them are urging them to transfer money quickly, or asking them not to tell anyone else about what is going on.