Radio advertisers caught in fake Facebook profile scam

Facebook users are warned to beware of scammers cloning the profiles of celebrities and ordinary Australians.
The crooks use the fake Facebook accounts to send direct messages to the person’s friends or fans, often mentioning a fake government grant they might be eligible for or a prize.

Northern Territory radio presenters Danielle McMurrich and Alice Burton of station Hot100 have both been caught up in the scam in recent weeks.

Hot 100 radio host and DJ Danielle McMurrich has been caught up in a Facebook scam involving cloned profiles. (Facebook)

The radio station said it had been inundated with messages from listeners claiming they had been contacted by scammers using fake profiles designed to look like the two advertisers’ accounts.

“One of the pages promotes a fake event, giving 20 people the chance to win a ‘special prize’ of $1,000, but it is understood that people are asked for their credit card details. to enter the draw,” the station said.

Northern Territory Deputy Consumer Commissioner Rebecca Davey told the radio station that fake profiles appeared to be a new scam trend.

The Hot 100 radio station is warning of a Facebook scam involving presenter Danielle McMurrich.
The Hot 100 radio station is warning of a Facebook scam involving presenter Danielle McMurrich. (Facebook)

“It’s sort of an emergent strategy where scammers are overtly using celebrities or local identities to trick people into thinking something is legit and then take your money or personal information away from you,” Davey said.

But it’s not just high profile people that scammers are targeting.

Jessica Pappelau, from Darwin, told 9News.com.au she was shocked yesterday to receive a call from her best friend in Adelaide about a new profile her father appeared to have set up.

“My friend sent me some screenshots and said it looked like my dad made a new Facebook page, but it got hacked,” Pappelau said.

The scammers created a fake profile for Jessica Pallelau's father, Wolfgang, then started contacting his friends.
The scammers created a fake profile for Jessica Pallelau’s father, Wolfgang, then started contacting his friends. (Provided: Jessica Pappelau)

The scammer had cloned Pappelou’s father’s Facebook page and sent him several messages.

The conversation begins with the scammer casually asking how she’s doing. They then go on to mention a government grant from the Department of Health and Human Services that she should check out.

Pappelau said her friend’s suspicions were raised almost immediately, and for good reason.

“My dad hates the government, so he would never say anything like that,” she said.

Pappelau said his father also heard about some of his other friends whom the scammers contacted.

“He was really shocked. He can’t understand,” she said.

Davey said it was often very difficult for victims to get their money back as the scammers usually operated from overseas.

There were several things people could do to help identify if a profile was fake, she said.

“Check for spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, lots of them [scammers] are based overseas…or maybe foreign words appearing on the page or in the domain name.”

“I would definitely advise people to take the time to investigate any claims or offers before handing over any money.”

A fake profile of fellow Hot 100 radio presenter Alice Burton has also been used by scammers to trick listeners.
A fake profile of fellow Hot 100 radio presenter Alice Burton has also been used by scammers to trick listeners. (Facebook)

If it sounded too good to be true, chances are it was, she said, adding that people should use their common sense.

“For example, if they offer a prize then why would you need to give your credit card details, it just doesn’t make sense,” Davey said.

Contacting the person or business directly was always a good idea, she said.

“Don’t just ask a question in the comments if you’re dealing with a Facebook post because that’s likely the scammer who will answer you,” Davey said.

“Instead, call the company and ask them to confirm if they are running a contest or offering a prize.”

“If it’s, say, Hot 100, you can find their contact information on the website from a legitimate source, call them, and verify that information.”

It was unclear exactly how many people fell victim to the scam and Davey said it was unlikely any money the scammers received would be returned.

“Unfortunately a lot of scammers are located overseas which makes it very difficult when we don’t have jurisdiction, but reporting it is the first step you can take to take action in the fight against them,” she said.

9News.com.au has contacted Facebook owner Meta for comment.

Contact journalist Emily McPherson at [email protected]

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