By Calvin Palmer
A Facebook scam tricked a Missouri woman into wiring $4,000 to a friend whom she believed was stranded in England.
Jayne Scherrman, of Cape Girardeau, wired the money through Western Union after receiving what she believed were several requests for help from her friend through Facebook, said Sgt Jason Selzer of the Cape Girardeau Police Department.
Police believe someone took over the Facebook account of Grace Parry, changed the password so she could not access her page and sent out messages saying she and her husband had been detained in London and needed money.
Scherrman received several requests for help on August 25 and 26, and was also called by a man with a British accent who pretended to be an immigration official, Selzer said.
Parry, who had not traveled to England, tried to access her account to warn other friends but was unable to do so. She suspended the account, and her husband posted warnings about the scam.
“I not only felt angry but violated,” Parry said. “I wondered that since they hacked into my account, would they show up at my front door?”
Selzer said it was unlikely Scherrman will get her money back.
He said people should remember to change their passwords often and to be careful about posting personal information.
Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, said these kinds of Internet schemes are not uncommon.
Company spokesman Simon Axten said, “Facebook has systems to detect suspicious behavior tied to compromised accounts and blocks it when it possible.
“We’re also working with law enforcement and with Western Union to investigate specific cases and improve education.”
Parry still plans on setting up another Facebook account, although she will take more care.
“This hasn’t scared me away from using Facebook,” she said. “I know how important the site is for a parent because they can monitor their children or friends.
“When I do set it back up I’ll change my password often and use a password that’s harder to figure out.”