SEATTLE (CNN/KIRO) – Facebook is warning users to beware of a new type of spam on their timelines, while the site and the Washington state attorney general are suing a Delaware company saying it's ripping people off.
It's called "like-jacking," drawing a Facebook user to the popular "like" feature, and then enticing them to click onto websites that can lead to identity and credit card theft.
According to Facebook officials, you notice an intriguing post on your Facebook page that a "friend" supposedly likes and has sent to you.
The post looks genuine, but it's a bogus type of spam that leads you to online surveys or products.
The Washington attorney general's office joined with Facebook to sue an online marketing company called Adscend Media.
"This company is misleading you, the user, the consumer, into thinking that you are getting a message from a friend. And in fact, that is an advertisement," said Assistant Attorney General Paula Selis.
Selis also said the company lures you into giving your personal information and ordering products it never intends to send.
Then, she said, it takes another step by sending similar "like" messages, supposedly from you, to all your friends.
"That is a scam," said Selis.
Facebook said it is devising a fix, but admits it's difficult to stay ahead of what Selis calls an internet scam.
"It's truly an arms race. And often legal action trails technology," said Craig Clark of Facebook.
Attorney General Bob McKenna said Facebook users are especially vulnerable because they are inclined to trust messages that appear to come from their friends.
"Trust your instincts before you click. If it doesn't really look like something that your friend would send to you, it doesn't contain any introductory language, you might want to check with them before clicking," said McKenna.
The attorney general's office does not know how many people have been victims of this type of scam.