Mythical iPhone 5 leads to real Facebook scams

The iPhone 5 is still just a dream -- but scammers continue to use it to lure unsuspecting Facebook users into a trap.

The Apple iPhone 5 may not yet exist – despite what you may have read about a zillion times on the blogosphere – but that hasn’t stopped Facebook scammers from using it to entice the gullible into forking over their personal information, or worse.

Today I found the following charming little message in my Facebook inbox from someone calling herself “Jeannette Tree”:

[img_assist|nid=215249|title=Want a free iPhone 5? Who doesn't? But you won't find one here.|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=482|height=289]

Clicking the link in that email leads to another Facebook page with a semi literate popup window. That popup will redirect you to a Web site outside of Facebook. 

[img_assist|nid=215253|title=Got curious? Got grammar? If you've got half a brain, you won't fall for this scam.|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=396|height=389]

The “New I Phone5 Market Research” [sic] Facebook page is still live as I write this, though the Web page it redirects you to -- – appears to have already been sent to the HTML boneyard. And not a moment too soon.

The site registration info is blocked, but it’s hosted in Russia, so draw your own conclusions. (There are probably legitimate .ru sites on the Web, I just haven’t run into any yet.) At best, sites like this suck down your data via  phony giveaways and then sell your info to lead gen companies. Given the Russian pedigree (and the nonexistent product it was hawking), though, I’m betting it was a malware infection site. Just a hunch.

Similar iPhone5 scams made their way around Facebook last May and in September. And, of course, free Apple iPad scams were all the rage last year.

How did I get this email? A little sleuthing turned up a partial answer. There were 19 recipients of that piece of spam, and they all had one friend in common. So I contacted that friend – let’s call him Typhoid Steve – and told him his Facebook account had probably been compromised. Hopefully, he’ll be able to rectify that problem by changing his password and/or deleting a spammy app he installed.

But I was also partially to blame. I had my Facebook privacy settings to accept messages from anyone – making me prime spam bait. So I immediately went into my Privacy Settings, selected How You Connect, and then changed the setting of “Who can send you Facebook messages?” from Everyone to Friends.

[img_assist|nid=215255|title=Change your message settings to Friends only to keep spammers at bay (mostly)|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=572|height=369]

It’s still not a perfect solution – if a friend’s account is compromised, they (or their attacker) can still send you spam directly, but it’s a bit easier to track down the source.

In any case: There is no Apple iPhone 5 (no matter what you read in Boy Genius Report). Just iPhone 5 scams.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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