Arkansans Targeted in Facebook Scam

Published 04/10 2014 11:14PM

Updated 04/10 2014 11:36PM

CONWAY, AR -- A scam on Facebook aims to get access to your personal information by pretending to be someone you know.

"I got a message in my instant messages," said Benika Richardson, who says she uses Facebook like most, to keep up with friends and family.  "It was from this lady."

The message came from a woman claiming to be Victoria Osteen, wife of famed televangelist Joel Osteen.  Richardson says she'd recently posted a comment on her website.

"[The message] was asking me to send money to an orphanage and told me that if I didn't do it that God was not going to forgive me for my sins," Richardson said.

She was taken aback but didn't fall for it. 

"I was like 'okay, guess I'm going to go to hell,'" Richardson said.  "I'm not going to send no money to an orphanage that I don't know anything about."

The state attorney general's office says Richardson is just one of an increasing number of people targeted each year on Facebook.

"Our main focus right now is trying to educate people about the steps they need to take to protect themselves," said Sarah Tacker, senior assistant attorney general.

Step one: make sure the person contacting you is really who they say. 

"You want to make sure that it's not someone who's got the name of the school acquaintance, but then doesn't also have any other school acquaintances that are their friends," Tacker said.

Richardson says there was no chance of her falling victim to the scam, but for others who may be more trusting she hopes the people behind it are caught. 

"I think it's wrong and against the law, and I think they should be prosecuted for that," Richardson said.

Authorities say these cases can be difficult to prosecute as many of the scams originate overseas.
The federal trade commission took nearly 300,000 complaints of identity theft in 2013.  Authorities say Facebook is increasingly becoming an access point for personal information.

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