Millions of Facebook users warned to watch out for fake missing child alert – it's actually a vicious scam | The Sun

FACEBOOK users have been warned of a nasty scam that plays on well-intentioned people's emotions.

Sick fraudsters are going around posting fake missing child posts on Facebook Groups.

Desperate parents often turn to local community groups online to try to find kids as quickly as possible.

But scammers have seized on it as an opportunity to rip people off with a vicious trick.

Fact checking charity Full Fact has flagged a series of posts like this.

The most recent one comes from a user who claims they're looking for their son, Tyler, who went missing after going to school.

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Most of the posts are near-identical with the same sort of description.

“This is the most recent picture of my son Tyler White at his first day of school, he left yesterday morning for school and he never came back," the latest fake post says.

“He was last seen wearing black converses with purple and red shoelaces as well as a blue zip-up hoodie, he has dirty blonde hair, blue eyes and he’s about 5’4-5’5 and 124lb.

"Please help me find him."

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The image used in this instance actually shows a 14-year-old Australian girl named Maggie, who is seeking a bone marrow transplant.

The idea behind the ruse is to get people sharing the post.

Once loads of users have shared it they can then edit the post with something completely different.

In many cases they advertise surveys or housing websites, which enable them to gain money.

And as you've shared it, your friends may inadvertently click them thinking you're recommending it.

Often the comments on these posts are disabled as well so other users can't warn you.

A similar scheme has been seen using missing dogs already.

Full Fact, which is paid by Facebook to look for false information on its platform, has the power to warn people about posts like this with a blur which says "false information".

But it's hard for experts to track them all down, so you should be mindful if you see missing child posts on Facebook Groups and think twice before sharing them.

At the same time, you don't want to ignore genuine pleas for help either, so use the tips below to figure out if a post is a scam or not.

How to spot a scammer on Facebook

There are ways to work out whether the person posting something in a Group is a scammer or not.

Firstly, click on their profile and see where they're from.

If it says from somewhere far away that should be an instant red flag.

Then look at the type of account they have.

If they don't have many friends or followers, it means they're very likely a con artist.

That's because bad actors are usually caught and their accounts banned, meaning they have to create a new one each time.

You should also see how long they've been a member – if it's very recent, that's definitely not a good sign.

Look at the comments as well, some members are good at highlighting these criminals.

If the comments are blocked that's also a red flag.

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Another tip is copy and pasting the text of their post in Google to see if others have reported it.

Finally, you can do a reverse image search of the pet on Google as well, to see if it's been used somewhere else.

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