August 14, 2014
Whenever a major story dominates the news, scammers take advantage of the public’s interest with online photos, stories and social media links that claim to offer sensational details. This tactic is called “click baiting.” Unfortunately, the bait that is being used right now involves the death of Robin Williams. BBB warns consumers about clicking on links, downloading pictures or purchasing commemorative souvenirs, unless you are on an established website with built-in buyer protections.
Con artists exploit tragedies in these ways:
- Impersonating victims or family members on social media.
- Selling memorabilia, often promising that some or all of the proceeds will go to charity
- Posting teasers for sensational video footage or photos
Any of these tactics can lead to downloading malware on your computer or smartphone, sharing personal information that can lead to identity theft, or providing information that can be used for additional spamming.
Scammers also post sensational or emotional content as a way of collecting “likes” on a Facebook account. After enough “likes” and comments, they can turn around and sell the account for a profit.
Tips to Protect Yourself from “Click Bait” Scams:
BBB urges consumers to take steps to protect yourself from scams shared through email and social media:
- Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.
- Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
- Don’t trust your “friends” online. It might not actually be your friends who are “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked and scammers could be using another tactic called “clickjacking”. Clickjacking is a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on social media links that you would not usually click on.
- Report scam posts on Facebook by following these instructions.
- Report malware or spam on Twitter by following these instructions.
To report a scam, please visit and fill out our Report a Scam form: BBB Scam Stopper.