Worthing councillor Bob Smytherman falls victim to Facebook identity scam
A Worthing councillor has fallen victim to a case of identity theft he believes may be linked to a recent Facebook hacking scam.
Tarring ward councillor Bob Smytherman said a fake Facebook Messenger account, sporting his name and profile picture, had been contacting his friends and followers asking for charitable donations.
“It’s a bit scary that someone can set up an account so easily,” said the Worthing town crier.
“It was quite sophisticated, talking about giving money to the Worthing Lions, which are a charity I have raised money for in the past.
“They are obviously aware of my position and selected people who they thought would give them money.”
Mr Smytherman said several friends had been in contact to alert him to the scam, which he immediately reported to Facebook and Action Fraud.
He said he suspected the attack could be linked to a Facebook hacking story reported by the BBC this morning.
A story on the BBC’s website said hackers appear to have compromised and published private messages from at least 81,000 Facebook users, with access being sold for 8p per account.
The BBC reported some of the users whose details have been compromised are from the UK, with many based in Ukraine and Russia.
Mr Smytherman suggested the specific information used in the messages, such as the reference to the Worthing Lions, could point to a hack.
“It could be linked to the national one, they were trying to engage people in conversation,” said Mr Smytherman.
“If they try with lots of people and set up lots of accounts, it is a numbers game.
“All they have to find is someone vulnerable to be taken in and get them to part with their money.”
He said nobody appeared to have handed over any money to the scammers and the account has since been deleted.
In a Facebook post, Mr Smytherman assured followers he would never ask for donations via Facebook Messenger and said ‘there is really only of me’. He urged anyone contacted to block and report the account.