Facebook Messenger Scams: How to Spot and Stop Them

Facebook Messenger scams are like uninvited guests in your digital space. Learn how to spot, stop, and protect against them.
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If you’ve ever received a random Facebook message with a link to check out who died or some conspiracy, you’ve likely been the target of a scam. There are a variety of Facebook Messenger scams, from people pretending to look for romance to fake charities asking for donations. Scammers want money or a way to steal your identity and are hoping you’ll just click a link without thinking twice.

No worries, though, you can learn to spot scammers and keep yourself safe on social media platforms like Facebook Messenger. You can also add extra protection by including identity theft protection to your security stack. The best ones include social media monitoring to help alert you if your account is breached or a link looks suspicious.

In this article
11 Facebook Messenger scams to watch out for
How to identify a scammer over Facebook Messenger
What to do if someone scams you on Facebook Messenger
How to boost your cybersecurity on Facebook
Best identity theft protection for social media
Facebook Messenger scams FAQs
Bottom line

11 Facebook Messenger scams to watch out for

There is no shortage of scams on Facebook. The Meta-owned company offers its separate Messenger app as a complement to Facebook so users have a secure way to privately chat. That also means there’s plenty of opportunity for scammers to harness Messenger’s private nature and run scams without being publicly called out.

Between Marketplace scams and phishing attempts, there are a lot of ways someone can try to scam you. Mostly they’re looking for money or a way to steal your identity. If you know what to look for and use some best practices, you can avoid these scams and help others identify them.

And remember to never let yourself be bullied or pressured into sending money, clicking a link, or divulging sensitive information.

“Look Who Died” virus

The Look Who Died virus is 100% a scam. The entire point is to send you a link and get you to click it. Once you do, whatever malicious thing is on the other side will deploy onto your computer.

It could also be a scammer who is hoping you will enter your Facebook or other credentials so they can steal them. If the person actually wanted to inform you about someone’s passing, they would hopefully call you or, at the very least, tell you outright instead of sending a link.

Fake Facebook security alerts

An official-looking profile may send you a notification informing you that there’s suspicious activity on your account, such as multiple logins or a violation of community standards. You’ll then be asked to click a link to appeal. This is all a scam. You aren’t in trouble.

Chatbot phishing scams

If you receive a message from an account you don’t recognize, or even a Facebook friend, saying there’s a security issue with your account, there isn’t. This is a scam.

Facebook or parent company Meta won’t send you a link via Messenger. Don’t click the link or respond. Just report the message and delete it.

Requests for authentication codes

This one mimics two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) practices by asking you for an authentication code. The scam is likely looking for the 2FA or MFA codes for one of your accounts or for you to verify an account. It may even look like it’s from a legitimate source. It’s not. Don’t give any information.

Government grant scams

Hackers will get into the profile of one of your Facebook friends and send you a message. The message will usually tell you about some free government money and how they filled out the form and got the cash. Delete this and let your friend know by another method that their account was hacked.

Fake prizes and giveaways

This is a big one. Businesses love to do social media giveaways to attract more followers. Giveaways can be legitimate, but only if they come from the actual business. Most businesses will announce the winners in the comments of the original post. And if you didn’t sign up for a chance to win, then it’s definitely a scam.

There’s also the chance a friend’s account was hacked if they sent you a suspicious message saying you won an award or prize. Or an official-looking agency may say the same thing. You’ll then be prompted to pay for prize delivery or ask for personal information. It’s always a scam.

Romance scams

This one preys on people looking for online relationships. Romance scammers will reach out to the victim and say they’ve either been widowed or divorced or are trying to escape a bad marriage. The scammer then sends romantic messages and exchanges intimate details to lure you in. After playing the long game, the scammer will ask for money for a “medical emergency” or something else that sounds valid. It’s not. It’s a scam.

Fake charities or donation requests

This can be anything from a fake GoFundMe to a simple plea by a hacked parent or family member. You’ll be sent a malicious link to a site that mimics a real donation site. The hackers can steal the donated money and even bank details if you enter those.

Investment scams

Investment scams can range from promises of turning a small amount of money into a large amount, to a good investment tip, to up-and-coming crypto. Whatever it is, the point is to trick victims into sending money, thinking they’ll receive a return. You won’t. And you likely won’t be able to recover what you paid.

Facebook Marketplace scams

Scams on Facebook Marketplace will try to lure you in with too-good-to-be-true prices and then ask for payment in gift cards or even to move the conversation off Messenger. All of these point to the sale being a scam. Report the seller immediately and block the message.

Fake coupon codes

A scammer may try to get you to sign up for an account, verify your Facebook credentials, or click a link to get a coupon code for a product, service, or restaurant you follow. The link may be a phishing attempt or malware that downloads onto your computer.

It’s best to cross-reference these coupons with the actual site. If you don’t see a coupon or a sale, it’s probably a scam.

How to identify a scammer over Facebook Messenger

You should trust your gut in online situations and be wary of anything that seems off. There are some telltale signs you’re dealing with Facebook scammers, but you may not always be able to recognize them. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • You’re asked for money via a link or bank transfer
  • The other person has poor spelling, grammar, syntax, or other things that native English speakers wouldn’t normally have
  • A stranger sends you a friend request
  • The person’s Facebook account is new or has few friends and very little activity
  • The other person tries to push you into a decision quickly without giving you time to think
  • A message from a friend doesn’t sound like them or seems off
  • You’re asked to move the conversation off Messenger
  • The other person appears to be famous or says they work for someone famous
  • A prize comes from a different account than the account running the giveaway
  • It all seems too good to be true

What to do if someone scams you on Facebook Messenger

If you think you’re being scammed or you were scammed, the first thing you should do is change your Facebook password. You should also change the passwords and passkey information for any account or website associated with the scam. The next thing is to report the scam to Facebook.

The next few steps will depend on what information you gave the scammer. You may need to contact your financial institution to watch for fraudulent charges. If you have identity theft protection (you should have identity theft protection), then contact their support and ask for the next steps. Contact your local police department and report the scam. Finally, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is a branch of the FBI.

No matter the scam, you should always file a complaint with the IC3. The more transparency there is with scammers, the more it will increase the effectiveness of efforts to stop them.

How to boost your cybersecurity on Facebook

If you’re serious about boosting your Facebook security, there are a few steps you can take. First, make your profile private, including your pictures. Don’t check into physical locations.

Ignore and delete friend requests from people you don’t know and delete friends you don’t know. This is a big one. Scammers will mass-add hoards of people hoping for some follow backs.

Never click links, pay for something with gift cards, or go to a site off of Facebook to access a deal, purchase, or donation. Never share personal information such as a credit or debit card number or your Social Security number (SSN).

You’ll also want to protect your identity with an identity theft protection service. These services do everything from scanning the dark web for your personal information to monitoring your social media accounts for scammers. With the best identity theft protection services, you’ll even receive identity theft insurance, which will pay for lawyers or reimburse you for lost personal expenses if you do end up a victim of a scam.

Best identity theft protection for social media

There are a variety of identity theft protection services that offer social media monitoring. If you’re concerned about scams, suspicious links, or having your account compromised, linking your social media accounts to these will ease your mind. The best identity theft protection services will help you recover your identity and provide compensation for damages in the event you do become a victim.

  • LifeLock: We like LifeLock because of how much identity theft insurance it offers you, up to $3 million, as well as a variety of features like dark web alerts, home title monitoring, and social media scanning. It also offers pricing for couples without children, which you don’t see often.

    Get LifeLock | Read LifeLock Review

  • Identity Guard: Identity Guard offers reasonable pricing and social media monitoring capabilities. Identity theft protection can be pricey, but Identity Guard offers basic protection and family plans that can fit into any budget.

    Get Identity GuardRead Our Identity Guard Review
  • IDShield: We like that IDShield offers full protection features on all its plans and comes with extras like a VPN and a password manager. The pricing is affordable as well, which works for anyone wanting protection on a budget.

    Get IDShield | Read Our IDShield Review

Up to 37% off first year when paid annually
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On LifeLock's website
LifeLock
  • Top-rated identity theft protection service
  • Provides up to $3 million in coverage
  • Multiple monitoring features including dark web, home title, and social media monitoring
  • Customer support experience is lacking

Facebook Messenger scams FAQs


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Does Facebook send alerts through Messenger?

Facebook says that it may send some alerts through Messenger like logins on a new device or key changes. These are simply awareness messages. You won’t be asked to click a link or verify information.

If you receive a message asking you to do either of these things, you’re likely dealing with a scammer. You can toggle off these settings for Messenger to be extra sure.


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How do I stop fake messages on Messenger?

There are a few ways to control who can send you messages on Facebook. There’s the option to disable Messenger completely. You can also designate who can message you, including friends of friends, people with your number saved in their phone (Facebook is always digging through your phone data), or everyone.

Finally, there’s the option to send messages to chat lists or a message request folder. Facebook has some spam filtering options, but it’s better to reduce the risk by tightening your security.


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How do you know if you’re chatting with a scammer?

Facebook scammers have some telltale signs. They may be businesses or people you don’t know reaching out to you. They may also be contacting you saying they represent a business or person you know.

Check for things like grammar, spelling, and other things a native English speaker would normally know. If someone asks you for money or to move the conversation from Messenger, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.

Bottom line

Trusting your own intuition and taking your time to evaluate the interactions you’re having on Facebook Messenger can save you from becoming the victim of a scam. Keep a lookout for anyone asking for money or for you to click a link, and double-check with your friends and the accounts you follow to make sure the offer you’re getting isn’t fraudulent.

The most important thing you can do is to add identity theft protection to your security stack. Not only will it monitor your personal information, but it can also help you recover if you do get scammed.

For more information on protecting yourself, check out our Complete Guide to Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself.

4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Aura Identity Theft's website
Aura Identity Theft
  • Excellent identity theft protection service
  • Includes a password manager and VPN
  • Robust tools for children’s security
  • Provides VantageScore and not FICO score updates

Author Details
Mary lives in Los Angeles and has been a cybersecurity writer for over five years. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, her career in online security began in sales and content creation for a private cybersecurity firm.