How a Facebook Group Scammed Thousands of Massachusetts Natives And Many Others Across The Country

If you grew up in Massachusetts, you might have been invited to join a Facebook group called “I Grew Up In Massachusetts”. Or another site for a different state of the same name. The group claims to be the largest Massachusetts group on Facebook, with over 100,000 members. It also promises to share nostalgic photos, trivia, and memories of the Bay State.

However, what you may not know is that the group is actually a massive fraud operation from Bangladesh, run by fake profiles and bots. The group’s admins are not real people, but stolen identities from other Facebook users. The group’s posts are not genuine but copied from other sources or generated by algorithms. The group’s purpose is not to celebrate Massachusetts at all, but to scam its members out of their money, personal information, or both. Their scam also grows stronger off of member participation from unwitting members that feed other members right into their scam by participating in their group.

They have this scam set up for almost every state and it is growing rapidly. Chances are you may have a friends or relatives already caught in their web.

How the Scam Works
The scam works by exploiting the trust and nostalgia of the group’s members. The group’s admins and bots post engaging content that attracts likes, comments, and shares. They also send private messages to the members, pretending to be their old friends, classmates, or neighbors. They then ask for favors, such as sending money, gift cards, or bank details, or clicking on malicious links, or downloading malware.

Some of the other common scams that the group may use are:

The Fake Clothing Article scam.: The scammer claims that their child created the design for whatever they are selling to gain a sympathetic response out of the members. Once they purchase an item with a credit or debit card the member is unwittingly giving secure info to the scammers from Bangladesh while believing they were making a purchase from a legit business. As you can see the creator clearly knows nothing about Massachusetts based on the design. This was posted by one of the many fake profiles the group owner has, and they are doing it all across the country with different states.

The Money Flip Scam: The scammer claims to have sent money to someone and got more back in return. They then suggest the member do the same. However, when the member sends their money, they don’t get anything back.

The Lottery Scam: The scammer tells the member that they have won a lottery or a sweepstakes. They then ask them to pay a processing fee or a tax to claim their prize. They may also ask them to provide their personal or financial information to verify their identity.

The Charity Scam: The scammer appeals to the member’s compassion and generosity. They ask them to donate to a fake charity, a disaster relief fund, or a personal cause. They may also send them a fake receipt or a certificate to make them feel good about their donation.


How to Spot and Avoid the Scam
The scam is not easy to detect, as the group’s admins and bots use sophisticated techniques to mimic real people and posts. However, there are some signs that can help you spot and avoid the scam, such as:

The group’s name is vague and generic. It does not specify a city, a town, a school, or a neighborhood in Massachusetts.
The group’s admins have unverified, fake, or no profile pictures, no friends, no posts, or no activity on their accounts. They may also have foreign names or locations that do not match their supposed identities.

The group’s posts are repetitive, irrelevant, or nonsensical. They may also contain spelling, grammar, or factual errors, or links to dubious websites.

The group’s messages are unsolicited, urgent, or suspicious. They may also contain emotional manipulation, pressure, or threats.


If you encounter any of these signs, you should:

Do not join the group or leave it if you are already a member.
Do not respond to the group’s messages, or block and report the sender if you do.
Do not send any money, gift cards, or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Do not click on any links, or download any attachments or files from unknown sources.
Do contact your local authorities, or the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation if you have been scammed or have any questions.

How to Report the Scam

If you have been a victim of the scam, or if you want to report the group, you can do so by:

Reporting the group to Facebook. You can do this by clicking on the three dots icon on the group’s page, and selecting “Report Group”. You can also report individual posts, comments, or messages by clicking on the three dots icon next to them, and selecting “Report”.

Reporting the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can do this by filling out an online form, or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

Reporting the scam to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). You can do this by filling out an online form or calling 1-800-225-5324.


How to Protect Yourself from Future Scams
To protect yourself from future scams, you should:

Be careful about what you share online. Do not post or share any personal or financial information, such as your full name, address, phone number, email, bank account, or credit card number.

Be wary of any offers that sound too good to be true. Do not trust anyone who promises you money, prizes, or rewards for a small fee or no fee at all.

Be skeptical of any requests that ask you to pay by unusual methods. Do not send money or gift cards to anyone you don’t know or trust. Do not wire money or use money transfer services, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, unless you know the recipient personally.

Be vigilant of any calls, emails, or messages that claim to be from the government or a legitimate organization. Do not give out any personal or financial information, or agree to any demands, without verifying the identity and the authenticity of the caller or the sender. Do not trust caller ID, as it can be spoofed.

Be informed and educated about the latest scams and frauds. Do research online, or consult with trusted sources, such as the FTC, the IC3, or the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
Remember, scammers are always looking for new ways to trick you and take your money. Don’t let them. Stay alert, stay safe, and stay smart.

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