Horrible thing happened in California? Viral scam spreads on Facebook

Filed Under: Facebook, Rogue applications, Social networks, Spam

Another viral scam is spreading between Facebook users, tricking them into taking online surveys that earn commission for those who initiated the scam.


Thousands of Facebook users have found that their accounts have posted messages saying


without their explicit permission.

The messages are designed to trick you into clicking on them, with some pretending to come from legitimate breaking news outlets such as Fox News.

If you do click on the links, however, you are shown a series of messages that lull you into believing that you will be able to access live car accident video footage.

Scam lure and rogue application request

Sounds pretty ghoulish doesn't it? And you wouldn't be far from the truth if you felt that you'd have to be pretty sick to want to see such content - but the internet can be a rather sick place.

As part of the trap, you are asked to give permission for a third party application. If you don't grant permission for the third party Facebook app to access your profile (and post messages to your newsfeed) then you will not be able to see the video, or so the scam claims.

It's therefore sadly predictable that many Facebook users are falling for the scam, which ultimately takes them to an online survey. Guess what? Yes, the scammers earn commission every time you complete a survey.

Survey scam

But if you did grant permission to the application, it has now posted the message to your own Facebook profile - spreading the scam even further.

Facebook account hit by viral survey scam

If you have been hit by a scam like this, delete the messages from your profile and remove the rogue applications that have access to your account.

Here's a YouTube video where I show you how to clean-up your Facebook account:

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

If you want to learn more about security threats on the social network and elsewhere on the internet, you could do a lot worse than join the Sophos Facebook page.

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5 Responses to Horrible thing happened in California? Viral scam spreads on Facebook

  1. geo · 1767 days ago

    This poor girls Boyfriend takes his last breath in her arms....
    Shocking: Boyfriend passes away before her eyes in a car accident is this the same scam ???

    • Not the same scam, but it works in the same kind of way.

      There have been many many different versions of the survey scams causing a nuisance on Facebook. :(

  2. Concerned mom · 1765 days ago

    Why can't the people who come up with this use their vast knowledge for good instead of evil???

    • Aspiring Genious? · 1764 days ago

      Dear Concerned Mother,
      I ask myself this every day. I end with the same conclusion time after time: Greed. If money is involved, which it is; people lose sight of their conscience. Knowing how these scams , viruses, programs, and anything that requires code works; I can tell you these Facebook internet hoaxes are the easiest thing to have go 'viral'. People are curious, also trusting their facebook, and not very knowledgeable with the programs they are using. Resulting in easy money, all you need to do is click, and it spreads like wildfire.

  3. Mary · 1427 days ago

    They could at least spend a little time spell checking their spam. That's painful to read.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at https://grahamcluley.com, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley