Big celebrity news is a treasure trove for Facebook scammers, who exploit users’ obsession with the triumphs and tragedies of the rich and famous. The most recent addition to the social media scammer playbook: using a fake video of actor Paul Walker’s fatal car accident to fish for personal information. Walker, who starred in the Fast and Furious films, died in November from injuries sustained in the crash, which also killed the driver, Roger Rodas. Fans took to social media to grieve and share memories, and thousands turned up for a recent memorial honoring the star.
Gossip outlets including TMZ posted links to a security video feed that captured the incident from a distance, feeding off morbid curiosity. Facebook schemers took this opportunism a step further, scamming gullible Walker fans with the promise of media showing ‘shocking’ footage of his death. After clicking, people are asked to sign up for a “free” membership to a sketchy movie website. In some instances, these sites ask users for credit card details. Users are told to share the video on their Facebook timeline before it will play. Not surprisingly, the link to the video doesn’t work, but the hoax gets spread, since many users do not realize it’s fake until they’ve already posted the link.
This certainly isn’t the first time scammers have used a celebrity death or scandal to entice Facebook users to click on malicious, fake videos – just recently, scammers claimed to link to a sex tape between Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Facebook filed a complaint against the alleged Bieber/Gomez hoaxer, so perhaps the people behind the Paul Walker video hoax will also get into legal trouble.