CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Facebook users need to be careful with attention-grabbing posts that might put their friends at risk of falling for a scheme.

Say you are scrolling through Facebook and you see a post about an injured, lost poet, or a missing child post, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You wanted to help, so you shared this post on your profile.

After you share the post on your profile, someone changes the original post to a deceptive rental ad or puts a link pointing to a survey that “guarantees” a cash prize. Now, your friends think you have recommended that content to everyone.

These ads aim to either get a deposit for a rental property before the user gets a chance to see the home or they get your personal information, which leads to identity theft. This scheme has many different versions, but the commonality is the urgency of the message that encourages people to share the news with their friends on Facebook. 

BBB offers tips to avoid being scammed by a bait-and-switch Facebook ad:

  • Do a bit of digging before resharing a post on your profile. Read the information carefully and look at the profile of the person who created and shared the original post. If the profile is from Florida but shared the post in a Canadian group, it may be a red flag of a bait-and-switch publication.
  • Find out when the poster created the Facebook profile. Scammers always create profiles when their old one gets banned. If you click on their profile, it will tell you how long they have been a member of the group. You can also find additional information on their public profile.
  • You should see it in the news. If a child goes missing or a tragedy occurs, you’ll most likely see it on different news outlets or shared by law enforcement, not on a random post. 
  • Do a reverse image search on Google. That will allow you to find out if the pictures you saw were used on other ads or websites in different cities. 
  • Find similar posts. Copy and paste the text from the post into Facebook’s search tool to see if other posts with the same text and different pictures show up.
  • If you suspect a post is a scam, report it to Facebook.