Don’t fall for it: New Facebook hoax warns of hacker’s friend request

NEW YORK (WPIX) — A Facebook hoax is making the rounds again, urging readers to avoid accepting friend requests from a nefarious stranger intent on hacking into their account as soon as they're connected on the social networking site.

Making the ominous warning even more viral, the message comes with a directive to let your friends know about the hacker because, the post says, if your friend accepts the nefarious request, you will be hacked, too.

But none of this is true.

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How to avoid Facebook phishing scams
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How to avoid Facebook phishing scams

1. Exercise common sense

Why is somebody offering you something that costs them money to purchase - and to market - for free? Does there seem to be a legitimate reason for the offer? What value does the party giving away the object receive in return? Does that value warrant giving away the object - or is the offer simply too good to be true? As you probably learned as a child - "don't take candy from strangers."

2. Consider how much is being given away

Legitimate giveaways done for marketing purposes are typically inexpensive items, downloadable materials, or extremely small quantities of expensive items to a small percentage of sweepstakes winners selected from a targeted group; any offer that claims to be giving away large numbers of expensive items should raise a red flag as doing so rarely makes sense from a business standpoint, especially if the offer is being promoted to the general public on social media.

(Adam Gault via Getty Images)

3. Check if a page is verified

Most major businesses are verified (with a white check on a blue circle - some small businesses have similar marks that are white on gray), so if an offer is ostensibly coming from a large business and the page from which it is being posted is not verified, that may signal problems. Not all businesses are verified; if you see a post from a business that is not verified, however, you can search on the business's name and see if there is a verified account for the business - if there is, you know that the unverified account is likely fake.

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(Nastco)

4. Look at the fine print

Legitimate sweepstakes and giveaways always have some sorts of "fine print" associated with them - if there are no "Offer Details," "Terms and Conditions," or the like, consider a huge red flag to have been raised.

(Reptile8488 via Getty Images)

5. Look for signs of an unprofessional post

Spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, misuse of idioms, writing that appears to have been auto-translated or written without knowledge of "how people speak," or photos that don't seem to match the post are all red flags. Do you really think a major firm running a marketing campaign doesn't check its content before posting it on Facebook?

(Just One Film via Getty Images)

6. Check the page's age and what appeared on it prior to the questionable post

it is a bad sign if a page was created right before an offer post was made. Of course, criminals know that people look out for page age - so they may create pages and post for a while before using the page for scams. So look out for what content was shared before? Does it make sense coming from the business? Do the comments on those posts make sense? Often there are giveaways on such pages that something is amiss.

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For years, various versions of the hoax have circulated. Different iterations have named Jayden K. Smith, Anwar Jitou, "Maggie from Sweden," Tanner Dwyer, Bobby Roberts and several others as phoney hackers, according to the myth-debunking site Snopes.com.

The message typically follows this format, saying:

"Please tell all the contacts in your Messenger list, not to accept Anwar Jitou's friendship request. He is a hacker and has the system connected to your Facebook account. If one of your contacts aceepts it, you will also be hacked, so make sure that all your friends know it. Thanks. Forwarded as received."

Accepting someone as a Facebook friend won't compromise your account. Still, you should only friend people you know, like family members, friends, coworkers and classmates.

And as always, don't click on links that look suspicious, are unsolicited or are sent to you by someone you don't know.

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