I had a very frightful experience with my own Facebook today. Lately, I have been hearing of many friends who have fallen victims to Facebook hackers who used their identities to create fake FB accounts to lure unsuspecting friends to give their phone numbers or to borrow small sums of money. I always assumed that my unlucky friends must have exposed their "FB Friends Lists" to the public settings that lured these scammers to attack them. The scammers and hackers have been working very hard during this Covid-19 pandemic to look for easy meat. So please beware!!
Today, I narrowly escaped a hacker's chopping board and thanks to my quick instinct. I have several Facebook accounts of my own because it is necessary to protect my own privacy and lifestyle. One FB account is shared with all my wife's ex students over the years, who treated me as their own friends together with a mixture with other school friends. The other 2 FB accounts are solely for my huge number of relatives and personal friends, besides over 1000 Japanese boxers and some corporate people. All in all, I am being rated as not active in Facebook at all except for quick browsing to get updates. My sister often chided me whether I was dead or alive as my Facebook is a good as dead.
BEWARE: Facebook helps you connect and share with the
people hackers in your life. (if you are not careful)
Today I fetched my wife to her office in Cyberjaya for an important meeting as their consultant to advise the Ministry on the plans to bring the country's education level to the highest. It would be a long 2-3 hour meeting, so I decided to chill and wait at the Starbucks which is only 2 streets away. While I was there, I ordered a hot cup of Green Tea Latte and started to browse one Facebook to see some boxing updates. The speed on my phone was normal and fast using my own data plan.
Minutes later, my wife texted me to send her a photo which I had taken a day earlier. I uploaded the high resolution photo to whatsap her instead. Suddenly, it took unusually long for my photo to be sent via my mobile phone. It was still loading and loading for too long until I blamed the internet connection must have gone haywire. That's when I thought that I should use the "Free WiFi" provided by Starbucks. I clicked into the WiFi settings to search for "Starbucks" but there was none. It was very strange that I could not find it at this huge 24-Hours Starbucks outlet. All of a sudden, the word 'Starbucks' appeared in the settings list but it looked suspicious as it appeared to move up & down like disappearing & re-appearing again. So I finally clicked it like having caught a fish at last. Then the strange looking "Free WiFi" page appeared and asked me to key in all my personal particulars after waiting for many seconds. As I typed my name, I scrolled down further to see scary requirements asking me for almost my whole data information like my email, age, date of birth, gender, telephone number and blah blah...... I felt cold and it didn't sound right to ask so many questions just for a free WiFi! I have previously worked for a huge Database Firm and truly understood how all database is captured to be sold to corporate companies to provide loyalty programs to their good customers. My wife who is also an IT progammer trained had often warned me not to log into anything with "Free WiFi" as scammers would often be behind the whole tricks to cheat naive & gullible users.
I quickly got back to my senses and withdrew from the Starbuck's "Free WiFi" offer which made me suspect that hackers were behind that. That 24 hour outlet is very popular with foreign students as Cyberjaya is a very happening university town. Drop by any midnight before the MCO, you would raise your eyebrows thinking that you have just entered a coffee outlet in UAE or Africa. I am not here to point fingers but would say hackers would target such happening places as thrifty foreign students would rely on free WiFi to do their assignments. Many would not have signed up with big data plans for their mobile phones.
The next shock I had was my Facebook was shut down abruptly or logged out suddenly! I tried to retrieve it but a strange looking page appeared as if it knew I had difficulty to search for my Facebook page. I remembered it showed my FB photo icon with 2 different personal emails which it asked whether I wanted to log in. I was still skeptical but clicked one button which suggested that I would receive the code in my sms shortly...... It took some seconds before the sms came and I had to memorize the long code before typing into my Facebook's log-in.
I received 2 strange pop-up 'verifications' like asking me:
"Whether I give consent to Facebook to make adjustment or modifications to my Facebook account.... ALLOW or DENY?"
"Whether I allow Facebook to make phone calls or send my photos to....... ALLOW or DENY?"
Horrors!! I could smell the putrid jobs of the cyber scammers & hackers! I was slowly getting cold sweat and thought my phone & Facebook account have been hacked. What an unlucky day, I thought.... Bah! Kaneeneh! The whole place seem jinxed to me. I looked back at the sms sent to me and the sender's number code was +441.......... and I quickly reported it as SPAM.
I decided to get up and leave the place as my phone's connection was getting weak & useless. I drove back to my wife's office area and parked the car under the tree to wait. I picked up my mobile phone and took a good look. The line's connection was good & running fast again. My Facebook page came back like normal and continued smoothly. The whatsap texts and photos could fly back & forth again quickly without any glitch. Whoa! I was sighing with a sense of relief.
When my smart wife got inside the car and I told her the whole nightmare I encountered. She took over my phone and instructed me to change my log in with new passwords. Next she was quick to check the settings to detect on any hackers who had been preying on my FB accounts. I was shocked to see the 'search results' as there was one vulture still trying hard to hack into my Facebook!! Hours earlier was a Singapore based scammer at work. (PLEASE SEE THE REPORT BELOW FROM MY PHONE'S NOTIFICATIONS OF HACKERS AT WORK DAILY)
Guys, please be careful with your personal details and never simply reveal to requests over the internet. Most importantly, do not use your phone to simple enjoy "Free WiFi" at restaurants, malls or anywhere as the vultures could be preying on unsuspecting victims!!