SOCIAL media users in South Yorkshire are being warned about hackers following an increase in reports.
South Yorkshire Police said its cyber crime team had 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.
Christine Sharp (49), of Mexborough, was one of those who has been affected by the scam.
The Mexborough woman's account tells how she 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.
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, who provides advice and support to people like Christine as part of her role, 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.
"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 call 0300 123 2040.