How low can scammers go? The latest is phony Facebook profiles that use identities of deceased victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 -- claiming their credit cards were stolen from the crash debris.
“Death hunters,” says Ukrainian MP Anton Gerashchenko on his Facebook page, are collecting jewels, cash and credit cards off of the victims. His post urges victims’ relatives to “freeze their credit cards, so that they won’t lose their assets to terrorists!”
The Dutch Banking Association assured next-of-kin that they’d be compensated for the fallout of credit card theft.
Journalist Phil Williams was at the crash site and pointed out that it was obvious that wallets and handbags had been stolen. Just about all the handbags had been opened, he reports. Looting is apparent, he says.
Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, used the term “utterly disgusting” to describe how the rebels had treated the corpses.
But beyond the site is even more alarming activity: fake Facebook accounts. Multiple Facebook accounts have been set up in the names of deceased victims. Facebook has since shut down the pages.
The pages provided a link to a video claiming to reveal footage of the airliner’s crash. However, users instead were directed to a website full of pop-up ads for fishy-looking services. The lure to this site was a malicious link tagline: "Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crashed over Ukraine. Watch here the video of crash."
You can imagine how many people -- not necessarily next-of-kin -- took the bait and made the click. Though these particular fraudulent pages were closed down, this doesn’t mean more won’t appear.
Is this common after a disaster?
It seems to be more common, as criminals are capitalizing on current events to perpetrate scams generally within a 24-48 hour period.
Tips for spotting these scams for consumers in general:
Thinking before you click, doing research and not being so impulsive will keep consumers from being baited by scammy links, titles and stories.
Tips for family members of the deceased:
They should cancel credit cards, create fraud alerts through their country’s credit bureaus, and once death certificates are obtained they need to submit them to the credit bureaus. Otherwise set up Google alerts with the deceased's names to monitor any chatter on social sites that may turn up their likeness in a stolen social media identity theft case.