Social media users in Doncaster are being warned about hackers following an increase in reports

South Yorkshire Police's cyber crime team has become aware of an emerging trend in our area, with scammers gaining control of people's social media accounts and using them to trick the victims' friends into sending money.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 9:38 am

Christine Sharp, aged 49, is one of those who has been affected by the scam.The Mexborough woman's account was hacked by a scammer who sent a message to the ten people she had most recently contacted over Facebook Messenger.The scammer pretended to be Christine and said she was overdrawn and needed to borrow some money, assuring she would pay it back as soon as possible with £20 interest. Three of Christine's friends thought it was a genuine message and lost £385 each.

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Christine said: "I was absolutely mortified when I found out what had happened - the first I knew of it was when one of my friends asked me when I'd be able to pay her back because she needed the money back to pay her own mortgage. I just can't believe there are people out there who could do such a thing to someone."Please, please make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to keep yourself, and your friends, safe online. I am so angry that this happened to me and my friends, and would hate for this to happen to anybody else."South Yorkshire Police Cyber Protect Officer Dannielle Lee provides advice and support to people like Christine as part of her role.Dannielle said: "Sadly, Christine's story is not a one-off and social media account hacking is the biggest cyber crime trend in our force area at the moment.

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There has been an increase in cyber crime

"Christine's friends just wanted to help out a loved one who they thought was having some financial trouble. Sadly, hackers will exploit people's kindness and generosity with the aim of pocketing the cash. It is extremely difficult to trace those responsible for these crimes, so the more people we can prevent from becoming a victim in the first place, the better."If you have been a victim of cyber crime or fraud, report it to Action Fraud at

www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.DANNIELLE'S TOP TIPS1) Keep your social media accounts secure• Have a strong password by using three random words, such as windowflowerskitten• Have a different password for every account• Turn on Two Factor Authentication (2FA)• Make sure any recovery contact details are up-to-date2) Be wary of unusual messages from friends asking for financial help. Even if the message appears to be from someone you know and trust, double check it's really them by calling them or speaking with them in person.3) Look on the National Cyber Security Centre website for guidance on recovering an hacked account

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.