Belgian crooks used a Facebook relationship lure to trick a hypermarket manager into a trap, kidnapping him and obtaining keys to the store's safe before making good their escape.
Local police have put out an appeal for information about the apparently well-planned blag on Thursday, five months after an audacious scam that relied on the power of social networking. The unnamed store manager was lured into a trap via a fraudulent Facebook friend request in early February. A friendship was struck up and the man was invited to have cosy dinner by "Katrien Van Loo", presumably to further the new friendship.
But when he arrived at an Antwerp apartment for dinner on 15 February, the store manager found only an empty building, where he was overpowered by two unidentified men. He was gagged, blindfolded and forced to hand over the keys to his apartment.
One of the assailants went back to his apartment and recovered keys for the Carrefour Express store where the man worked while the other stayed with their victim. These store keys were passed on to a third accomplice, who used the keys to enter the store and rob its safe prior to making his escape with an unspecified sum of money. Both the second and third suspects were captured on CCTV footage.
The whole incident is a salutary reminder that criminals can pose as anyone online. If you do arrange to meet someone that you only know from Facebook, do it in a public place and avoid going alone.
Rik Ferguson, a security consultant at Trend Micro, who tipped us off about the kidnap/supermarket blag, has posted more safety tips for dealing with friend requests from strangers in a blog post here. ®