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We Have All Seen Them: Social Media Scam Uses Lost Animals and People to Target Users

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Upper Saddle River NJ, it is common to see social media posts claiming someone’s lost pet or family member was found, with the intent to reunite them with their family. Users frequently share these posts in hopes of assisting others. Scammers are using these same lures to circulate what starts as an innocuous post. Once the post is shared with a sizable audience, the scammer changes the original link to direct users to a malicious or fraudulent website. In at least one case, the malicious URL led users to a fraudulent advertisement for a rental property. These schemes are referred to as “bait and switch” posts and are often successful as they tug on the heartstrings of social media users with good intentions of supporting efforts to reunite loved ones. Users who share these posts are often unaware that they have been subsequently altered and are unknowingly putting their friends and family at risk of visiting a fraudulent or malicious website and divulging sensitive information.

The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell advises social media users to verify the information in any posts before sharing, clicking on links, or promoting the post’s contents, including those shared by people you know. Bait-and-switch posts often originate from pages that are not associated with a specific individual, have comments turned off, and are relatively vague in the descriptions used in the post. You may also reverse image search if a photo is included in the post to see if it has been used in previous fraudulent posts. Additionally, periodically inventory the accounts you follow and allow to follow you, ensuring that only those you know personally can see your profile information and posts. For additional recommendations, please review the NJCCIC instructional guides on adjusting your social media security and privacy settings.


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