Scamwatch: celebrity death fraud

Jess Bown
Scamwatch: celebrity death fraud
Scamwatch: celebrity death fraud

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we explain how criminals are tricking people into clicking on dodgy links by posting fake news about celebrity deaths on Facebook.

How does it work?

Police are warning Facebook users to be wary of stories that appear on their News Feeds about celebrities dying.

The warning comes after a number of reports of links that claim to lead to stories about the deaths of famous people such as Graham Norton and Noel Edmunds, but actually trigger pop up windows saying your computer has been infected with a virus and you need to call a number to rectify the problem.

Colne and West Craven Police said: "The scam involves a user clicking on a link in Facebook that states a celebrity has died (they haven't).

"When you click on the link two pop ups will appear claiming that your computer has been infected and that you need to call this number 08000698622.

"Please do not ring this number, close the windows and run your antivirus software to do the check."

How can I avoid being caught out?

When using Facebook, the safest policy is to only click on links from reputable sources.

Even in cases where the story appears to be from a well known news provider, it's worth checking the URL bar to make sure you are not being taken to a spoof site if you have any doubts.

"Stay safe and never divulge personal information without checking and knowing that you're speaking to the genuine company," Colne and West Craven Police said.

It's also important to keep your computer firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programmes up to date.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

You should report scams of this kind to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040), as well as Facebook.

If friends on the site suddenly seem to be filling your News Feed with rubbish, it's also a good idea to make sure they know about the posts, as they can only take action to stop them if someone tells them what is happening.

And if you think your computer may have been subject to a malware attack, run a check using an online virus scanner such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner.