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BC RCMP warn of bait-and-switch social media scam

Mounties in BC are warning people to think twice before sharing “heartbreaking” posts on their social media after they received reports of a new scam.

The scam involves the original poster asking for help finding the owners of a lost dog or the parents of a lost child and usually asks other users to share the information to spread awareness, says a news release from the Prince George RCMP.

The posts usually involve what appears to be a “gut-wrenching and attention-grabbing issue.”

“What happens after the information has been shared is the original poster then changes their post, usually to a deceptive rental ad or fraudulent contest, often with the promise of a cash payout,” says Cpl. Jennifer Cooper, Media Relations Officer for the Prince George RCMP.

“When your friends and family see this on your social media page, they believe it to be legitimate and are more likely to click the link, thinking it has been endorsed and vetted by you.”

Mounties say that once your friends or family click on the link, they could be asked to share personal information, which can lead to identity theft, or a deposit on a fake rental.

This type of scam was caught by social media users and reported to the Prince George RCMP on May 14.

<who> Photo Credit: Prince George RCMP </who> Mounties found that the same post was being shared in Prince George as well as cities in California and Georgia.

The post included the poster saying a toddler was found in Prince George and that the child, whose face is blurred out but has visible bruises on his face, was safe at the police station.

“We have no idea where he lives. No one has called looking for him. Please Bump this post,” says the post shared by the Prince George RCMP.

According to the release, a quick search revealed the same post being shared in Facebook groups based out of California and Georgia.

To avoid falling for this scam, police say people should search the original poster’s name to see if their account is legitimate. Police say you should keep an eye out for the person not having many friends or if the account is very new.

People can also search the keywords to see if the same post has been made elsewhere,

Mounties say. You can also do a reverse image search to see if the image has been used for other purposes before sharing.

“Be sure to avoid clicking links that you cannot verify as coming from a legitimate source,” the news release says.

“If you aren’t certain if a link is legitimate, go to the parent website on your own or log into your online account to verify if the actual company is requesting you to visit their website.”

The RCMP say people can also report anything that seems illegitimate so it is taken down.

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