Scamming in the Age of Social Media

Well, a few days ago I received an interesting Facebook friend request. It was from a person by the name of Amanda Jones, who in her brief digital existence on Facebook already managed to gather over 300 friends (+250 since my invitation). Amanda has a few photos of herself on her facebook page, along with a great introductory story of family happenings, “amazement with my profile”, settling down in Texas, etc. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that she’s also single… and looking for that special someone.

By now, some of you are already drawing parallels to the Nigerian Princes and Princesses. Well, read on…

After such a wonderful introduction (and my need for something interesting to write about), I figured… Hey, what the heck, let’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes. I added Amanda, although to my VERY limited profile list. I expected some sort of communication right away, but after a couple of days of radio silence, I thought to reach out to her instead… maybe she’s shy?

We’re obviously in a semi-serious Facebook relationship, so I thought it would only be appropriate to send my newly found interest a direct message. There was almost an immediate response… Two in fact.. with similar wording… but with two obviously different styles of writing. One could deduce they were almost… pre-written with a clear “Call to action” that would move our conversation out of Facebook and into e-mail. Here’s our conversation in full:

Amanda Jones November 1 at 11:03am

How are you doing today hope all is well with you over there well, i must introduce myself, my name is Amanda Jones am 30 years old female from Katy,Texas, i go through your profile on facebook, i read it and i was amazed with the content of your words and i would love the both of us to get acquitted and more personal and look what happens from there because i would love to settle down. Am single and looking for the right man to spend my life with and get settled down with me,,my mum is from UK and dad from US, but i grew a little in London before we moved back to the states and stayed awhile in Katy,Texas. where i lost my Dad in a car accident a long time ago. I love to be with a man who is caring, trust worthy, understanding, gentle and most of all God fearing and i do hope u possess such qualities. I would love to hear more from u. Here is my personal id amandajoness143@yahoo.com you can e mail me and i will respond immediately or send me your e-mail and i will respond as well. hope to hear from u real soon and hope we get squinted soon. I hate lies and i love truth and understanding.

[note: I like to get acquitted with people as well, or squinted… it’s all good]

Me November 3 at 7:29pm

So, what do you do Amanda?

Amanda Jones November 5 at 1:21pm

thanks for the reply.i work at a store..and i will like to know more about you .

i will sent you more about me to your email address.

[note: Oh snap… we don’t have a canned response. Quick! Where do people work?… Store?.. let’s go with that.]

Then… a few minutes later…

Amanda Jones November 5 at 1:25pm

Dear Ernest,

About me and my family its a long story to tell and touching that make me share tears whenever i remembered the past.I will keep this short,i came out from a good combination of two,my Mom is from UK while Dad is a native of America.I am the one and only child of my parent, i will count it ,I have a big Family because i don’t know much about my Moms family in the UK while my Dads part is very small…Unfortunately i lost my Dad by a car accident, this happened about 2years ago, since then i have started to live my life by myself and not depending on my family, although i still miss my Mom because of the courage and advises she use to give to me about life , but i am glad i am whom i am today.

This make me remember when my late Dad were alive my Dads Cousin do come to us in Texas for a visit but after the final burial of my Dad, My Mom went back to UK. And she decided to raise me some fund to stand on my own then left me to continue with my life carrier until i come to them with my future Husband for a special introduction….

I can cook pretty good for a guy… I like a good Champagne. I’ve been working out more regularly than I had been, and eat healthy food…I don’t do drugs, and I like who I am..Although I think a terrific man would bring out the best in me…I’m a believer in God who pray every blessed day , am a good catholic , i do go to church weekly, and try to do the right things every day…I don’t worry about what people think of me…I know how to treat a man well still yet i was betrayed by my own best friend dating my Ex Boyfriend…

I care.

Amanda.

[note: That’s a full on episode of Sex and the City, or OC… or whatever it is that kids watch these days. But I’m glad she cares. ]

I’ve seen enough Dateline exclusives to know when to draw the line and that… was it. “Amanda’s” account has now been flagged and reported, but let’s have a look at how the communication channels have changed for this industry and what we can learn from this experience:

  • Mix up your channels of communication. Scammers and other terrible people have used e-mail only for a long time and now they’re moving on up to social media. Wouldn’t you say your company is due for an update as well?

  • Create personal connections. Although this example is from the dark side, just look at the approach. Instead of blanketing anonymous e-mails, they’ve created somewhat of an engagement through connecting with people personally, and addressing them that way. What can you do today to connect with your audience on a personal level?

  • Build a storyline. Just like the movies, a marketing campaign should have a storyline. Especially when building social media engagement. I’ve switched to this format of planning about a year ago and never looked back. You can create plotlines, twists, characters, struggles and wins with your campaign. You can dissect almost any successful social media campaign and directly correlate it with a storyline. As you build your next marketing campaign, think about what kind of storyline it would have.

  • Think about the audience triggers. In this case, “Amanda” has very specifically targeted males and gave them exactly what they would want to see… scantily clad photos or herself (or some random person they were able to find photos of), along with a very convincing (but terribly spelled) story. Once they pulled the right trigger with their audience, next step is to extract value… In a business sense, this is where you would consider your audience and really think about what’s important to them. Do you know what’s important to your audience?

That is all.

5 thoughts on “Scamming in the Age of Social Media

  1. Great article. Not surprised that scams are moving into the social media realm, and would expect that to happen more and more. Especially considering baby boomers are often the target of scams and baby boomers are increasingly using social media.

  2. Ernest, well done my friend! I love your sense of humor around this communication. Very good lesson to learn. Hope to see you around soon. Maybe a pre-Christmas cheer! Not to worry, I am married and not looking to take care of my man!Shauna

  3. Ernest – you mean all those people who see my profile and tell me how impressed they are – aren’t serious! I’m impressed you followed the story as far as you did. Good for you and yes you are right creating a story is powerful and will engage many. If only my stories could be that effective! Cheers Ernest see you next time our paths cross

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