Trust but verify: Hackers pose as Facebook friends -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hackers pose as Facebook friends

Cyber Expert Theresa Payton got Chris Swecker on Skype. She wanted to talk to the former FBI assistant director and Bank of America executive about a scam that's making the rounds - using his name.

"It's very frustrating to be in the field of law enforcement in this field, and to see my name used," he said.

A woman was taken for thousands of dollars after what she thought was a chat with her sister on Facebook. The scam artist behind it had hacked into her sister's account  and learned enough about the woman to carry on a conversation. He even had her picture.

He encouraged her to apply for a government grant. She just had to wire a fee.

"Any time someone offers you something free but first you have to send them some money, that's a scam. One-hundred percent of the time," Swecker said.

But the woman trusted this fake sister. Especially when, as further verification, a Sergeant Chris Wwecker called to tell her she should apply soon. The caller ID looked legit.

But it wasn't Chris Swecker.

"This person doesn't know anything about rank in US law enforcement," he said. "The FBI has no sergeant ranks. They often make little mistakes they can pick up on."

Theresa says any time an offer like this comes your way, you should trust but verify.

Pick up the phone and call the person. Or, at the very least, wait 24 hours before making a decision.

"Just slow down," she advises. "If you just slow down, you'll realize it wasn't Sergeant Swecker - he was an FBI director. That doesn't make sense. You can Google and see if there is a grant."

Chances are, the search will come back telling you it's a scam.

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