'Invite' scams target millions of Facebook users

April 4, 2011 at 4:53 PM ET

Facebook via Sophos /
Just say "No!"

Have you recently received an invite on Facebook to a public event titled "Who blocked you from his friend list?" Maybe you got one for an online shindig called "You will NEVER send a TEXT after seeing this VIDEO!"

Scammers are playing on your need to feel included (or perhaps your fear of texting-related death) and a host of other OMGCAPLOCKED!!!! emotional triggers in their latest attempt to generate income from online survey scams, reports Sophos.

Sophos researchers have discovered bogus events promoting revenue-generating scams that put cash into the pockets of the spammers that have targeted — in some cases — over 10 million Facebook users.

The event page for "Who blocked you from his friend list?" reveals that more than 165,000 Facebook users plan to "attend," the event (which means they clicked), and 10.3 million users under the "Awaiting Reply" section. (Here's hoping they don't reply!)

Invitation bait is a newish twist on a not-so-newish "take this survey" griftscammers earn commission on every sucker tricked into responding to an invite. Facebook users eager to learn more about the invite click the "More info" link in the event's summary.

If you click away, you may quickly find yourself on a Web page outside of Facebook, inadvertently earning money for the scammers. Provide your cellphone number when prompted, and you could find yourself signed up for an expensive mobile service as well. What's more, once you're hooked, the invite can spread to all your Facebook friends, keeping the scam alive.

Remember, the rules that keep you safe in real life apply to Facebook as well. Don't accept rides from strangers, and never accept Facebook invites to outlandish "events," especially if the invites abuse the caps lock.

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Helen A.S. Popkin trusts no one. Join her on Facebook and/or Twitter, won't you?