Alert issued over scam from 'friends and family' on Facebook Messenger that has cost victims thousands of pounds

Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have are encouraging people to stay vigilant after a new scam left victims over £44,000 out of pocket.

By Kyle Wilson
Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 12:53 pm

Action Fraud have received a surge of reports where victims have received messages through Facebook Messenger from friends and family requesting to use their Pay Pal account to receive funds from the sale of items on EBay.

In total, between the 1st June 2020 and 31st July 2020, a tally of 95 reports have been made with total losses amounting to £44,035.

Messages are sent by fraudsters purporting to be friends and family stating that they have sold goods like cameras on eBay but that they are unable to process the payment as they either do not have a Pay Pal account or because their Pay Pal account is not working.

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The PayPal scam uses hacked Facebook accounts to lure victims.

The request is that the message recipient receives the funds into their own Pay Pal account, then, after transferring it into their own bank account, they forward it onto an account controlled by the fraudster.

If the victim agrees the payment is transferred into their Pay Pal account but, after the money is transferred out, the initial transaction is reversed leaving the account in negative balance.

Multiple reports have also been received from victims stating that their Facebook Messenger accounts have been hacked and that these fraudulent messages have been sent to all their contacts on their behalf.

So, what can you do?

The new scam has already cost victims more than £44,000.

Verify financial requests: Be wary of unusual messages asking for assistance with financial transactions. Even if the message appears to be from someone you know and trust, you should check it’s really them that sent the message by calling them or speaking with them in person.

Unusual financial requests: Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred through your account, by someone you don’t know and trust.

Secure your accounts: You can protect your important online accounts by using a strong separate password and, where available, turn on two-factor authentication.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, Report it to Action Fraud online at or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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