Our reporter goes undercover to see what happens when you voluntarily give your information and credit card info to Facebook spammers.

For as long as the internet has been around, two things have been a constant given: always being one or two clicks away from lewd material, and always being a couple of clicks away from a scam.

Before the days of social media, these scams usually came in the form of some wrongly deposed prince reaching out to you for help to transfer his family’s wealthy estate and giving you a little something in return for your effort—if only you’d be so kind as to share your bank account information with him first.

With the advent of large online retailers and social media sites, however, most online crooks have since moved on to trying to fool people with phishing scams via pop-up ads, spam comments, or e-mails made to look like legitimate corporate correspondence about account updates and security breaches. We all know that accidentally supplying your name, address, and credit card information in such scenarios can potentially have disastrous results, but to what extent? Our Japanese reporter Go Hatori decided to find out…

It didn’t take long for Go to find a potential scam. While browsing the official Facebook page for Yumi Furusato, a jewelry salon in Omotesando, Tokyo, which RocketNews24 featured in a (Japanese-language) article before, his eyes immediately fell on a comment and link from a potential scammer.


Clicking on the link revealed a notice informing him in grammatically incorrect English that his account would be deactivated if he didn’t supply the following information:

▼ Hmm, seems legit…


Not wanting to risk his own personal safety, Go held off on entering his information until he was ready to proceed with a disposable phone, a fake Facebook account, and a pre-paid debit card.

▼ Those are some mad selfie stick skills.


Unfortunately during that short period of time, the original site had at some point disappeared. But not to fear—Ms. Furukawa had our reporter’s back, and was kind enough to supply him with a link to another suspicious comment that had been posted on her page.


▼ Only 24 hours, you say?! There’s no time to lose!

It goes without saying that, just by looking at the “b” in “Facebook”, there’s no way this link could be official or trustworthy.


This particular font discrepancy was most easily distinguishable on an iPhone, but still noticeable enough to raise concerns no matter which platform the comment was viewed it on.


This was it! The experiment was about to unfold.

Logged in under his alias account Gogo Hatori (Mad Hatori), our man followed the link, leading him to a site similar to the one from before. He quickly got to filling in his “information.”


▼ Go’s alter-ego has had a tough life from the start, growing up on “Death Road.”

Upon clicking the confirmation button, a screen asking for credit card information appeared. Go reached for his brand new, pre-paid debit card, which he purchased at a neighborhood convenience store and could be used for payments of up to 3,000 yen (US$27).


Taking the plunge, he proceeded to fill in the rest of the requested info before clicking the next confirmation button.


Everything went through on the first try, no problem.

▼ Success!

Now all that was left to do was wait…

Sadly, nothing happened immediately after providing the scammers with this false information. But there was always the chance that they could have saved our reporter’s information for later use, so Go waited patiently for the next 40 days, checking every so often to see if anything suspicious was afoot.

Even after a month and a half had gone by, however, Go’s Facebook account remained completely untouched, without a single login or attempted login from another party. Perhaps the thieves had seen the error of their ways and had decided to go straight?


Furthermore, Go’s credit card balance remained the same; as far as he could tell, nothing had happened at all. C’mon spammers, is this really the best you could do?!


But wait! What’s this? Upon closer inspection of the credit card statement, it seems Go had been charged—and then credited 100 yen (US$0.90)—for Facebook ads. Although this hadn’t affected the available balance on the card any, it certainly was suspicious. He quickly made a quick call to Visa to inquire, but they were unable to shed much light on what had happened.


Maybe these scammers had felt a pang of remorse after taking our reporter’s hard-earned 100 yen, or on the other hand, maybe they had decided he had too little money on his card and that they had bigger fish to fry. We may never know, but to date the “worst” thing that happened to Go was an increase of English-language spam mail received on his phone. Beginning with a “Hello” or a “Hi”, each mail would follow up with someone introducing themselves from an advertising and quality-control firm, going on to explain about the nature of their work. Unfortunately, since SMS mail is limited to 160 characters, each mail got cut off, so the jury’s still out on what exactly they do. (Also, while Mad Hatori may be a wild kind of guy, English isn’t really his forte.)

▼ We may never know what kind of wonderful offers we have missed!



Since viewing texts costs the receiver money, extremely large increase in SMS spam could have been problematic, although this particular experiment didn’t warrant enough spam mail to make any dent in his phone bill.

So with 3,000 yen still left on his card and his experiment now complete, our reporter is now deciding what to treat himself with… Perhaps an English study workbook to help him decipher any possible spam mail in the future?

All images © RocketNews24

A message to our readers: While we’re sure you derived just as much amusement from our reporter’s experiment as we did, we would not advise conducting similar tests, and would like to remind you all to keep your personal information safe and secure when online since, after all, there’s a good chance our man simply got lucky here. That or they saw his profile pic and were just too intimidated to try anything…
[ Read in Japanese ]