SEATTLE - Friends of Seattle resident Bryan Rutberg were alarmed to hear Bryan was in trouble overseas recently, and one sent money to help out.
Now they've learned they got caught up in the latest scheme targeting social networking sites like Facebook.
This could be the scam of the future. Instead of trying to sucker people with mass e-mails, crooks are now using a more targeted and personalized approach with the help of social networking sites like Facebook.
Last week, Bryan Rutberg's Facebook page fell into the wrong hands and a strange message appeared.
"It changed to Bryan is in urgent need of help -- all caps -- exclamation point," Rutberg said. "I guess that is the way the scammer set the table for reaching out to my friends."
Rutberg couldn't access his own account because a hacker changed the password and was posing as Bryan. That hacker was chatting by instant message with the friends listed on Bryan's Facebook page, telling them a harrowing story.
"The story was I'm stuck here in London," Rutberg said. "I was on vacation at a resort. We were held up at gunpoint and now I have no way to get back home. Please send money."
Beny Rubinstein was one of the first friends to get that instant message.
"I asked him a couple of questions that were personal and he answered them properly so he made me believe I was talking to him," Rubinstein said. "Initially he asked for $600 so that's the amount I put in."
And when a friend left a message the next day saying Bryan was still in trouble -- Rubinstein sent hundreds more. Using Western Union, he wired a total of $1,200 dollars to London. It was picked up by someone claiming to be Bryan Rutberg.
"It's not just the financial thing, it's also an invasion of your privacy and who your friends are," Rubinstein said.
Rutberg is angry that it took Facebook 48 hours after he filed a complaint to shut his page down. He says that slow response exposed more of his friends to the hacker.
Rutberg isn't alone. Facebook say a small number of Facebook users -- it won't say exactly how many -- have been hacked.