Scammers now target intelligent users

Published May 12, 2021, 11:44 AM

by Art Samaniego

The number of social media users recently scammed, hacked, and even harassed online is alarming. While cybercrime victims before were the clueless titos and titas, now, journalists, doctors, teachers, and even those in the religious communities have fallen to the more sophisticated forms of scams. We could see now the impact of cybercrime across all ages and spectrums of society.

As a technology editor, I always write about topics on internet safety and security. I also took courses on cybersecurity and internet security to learn more about it. My desire to gain additional knowledge about information security has given me 50 certifications, including an IT support professional certificate and cybersecurity analyst certification. My job as the Tech Editor and IT head of Manila Bulletin has made me the unofficial tech support guy for my friends. Just last week, I got urgent messages from five of my friends asking about different cybersecurity issues.

I always tell my friends to be careful when clicking links from emails. Scammers could convincingly copy websites to look the same as the real ones. Check the URL before clicking, hover the cursor on top of the link, check the lower-left corner of your browser. If you don’t recognize the URL, don’t proceed.

Never trust Facebook-sponsored posts immediately. Facebook allows scammers to target you using its platform. If a sponsored post asks you to log in to your account, it’s a scam. Don’t proceed. If you see these scam ads, it means the scammers target you. Using the Facebook algorithm, the scammers know that you are more likely to click their sponsored post.


These are the messages I got from my friends. With the help of some members of the Phillippine Hacking University (PHU) group, we recovered two facebook and one Instagram accounts. Read on and learn how not to be a victim of cyber scams.

Question: I got a private message asking me to post an article through an instant Facebook article. He will pay 60 dollars per published article and 120 dollars for videos. Is this legit?

Answer: That’s a scam. It happened before. A struggling Facebook page immediately grabbed what seems to be an opportunity. Instead of getting that 60-dollars for the article and 120-dollars for the video, the scammers took over the page. If you agree, the scammers will then ask you to give them access to your Business Manager Account, don’t!. Giving permission will provide them with authority to kick you out as owner/admin of your page.

Question: I got a message that says my Facebook account would be verified and have that blue check after my name. I need to follow the instruction and install an app from someone who claims to be from Facebook.

Answer: That’s a scam. Facebook will never ask you to install an app to verify your account. Be careful. Third-party apps you would install could not only compromise your social media account but also take over your computer.

Question: I got a message from a friend that says I won a government agency raffle. I need first to send PhP28,500.50 for a tax clearance fee to get the one million-peso prize.

Answer: That’s a scam. Never believe a message like this or its variants. Sometimes, scammers would use your friend’s account to ask for money from you. Never send anything. Verify first if it is really from your friend or that agency who said that you won something.

Question: I think hackers compromised my Facebook account. Someone is accessing it without asking permission. What would I do?

Answer: If you’re worried about the security of your FB account, go to Facebook will walk you through how to change your password if you think your account is compromised. After following all the instructions, immediately activate the 2FA feature to add an extra layer of protection to your account.

Question: I got a message saying that he has access to my email. As proof, he gave me the old password that I used for my account. He told me that he would forward my incriminating messages and photos to my friends and family if I won’t pay US$100 using bitcoin.

Answer: This is a scam. These criminals usually get email addresses from compromised databases. A breach like this is not your fault. To secure your email, you need to change your password regularly. It would be best to use a password that you could easily remember but difficult for hackers to guess. Don’t worry. A message like this is a scam, and the sender has no access to your email.

Remember, it is always safe to think before you click.