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9 April, 2021

Facebook Scam: Innisfail businessman Scammed

IT all seemed too good to be true. Perhaps that should have been the first warning sign. Innisfail businessman and real estate agent, George Viellaris was contacted by a Facebook ‘friend’ with exciting news about a major cash win for George.

By Peter McCullagh

Innisfail Businessman George Viellaris - a victim of cyber-identity theft.

George was told by his ‘friend’ that he had won $60,000 from the Facebook Freedom Award Promotion. His friend had already received his cash and had seen George’s name on the list when he was delivered his lump sum.

George never stopped feeling it was probably a fraud, but he thought he would play the game until he was asked for card details or a payment and that would confirm the fraud.

As it turned out, George’s ‘friend’ had already been hacked and his account was under the control of an unknown scam artist.

Alarm bells were ringing loudly, when George was asked by his ‘friend’ to buy some Woolworths or Coles vouchers to enable him to redeem his prize money.

George was also asked by this trusted ‘friend’ for his Facebook password so he could give him a hand to obtain his prize money.

He had nothing to lose. George never thought much of Facebook anyway and thinks even less of them today.

“So it wasn’t as if I was giving away my credit card details, but the ramifications have been far worse than that.

The fake George Viellaris Facebook Account

“One of my real friends called me Wednesday afternoon to tell me the scammer is advertising an old real estate listing on Facebook for $10,000.  

“By the time this goes to print I will have disengaged with Facebook and Messenger until they show me, they are not asleep at the wheel.” 

“Why hasn’t this organisation got real people you can talk to when there is a problem like this which is now a historical problem causing grief not only to me and to my business but countless innocent victims whom I wish to apologise to.

“I made a mistake now many have been affected and Facebook says it’s not happening.

This happened over 12 months ago. Since then, the real George Viellaris has battled with Facebook trying to shut down his hacked, rogue profile as well as endured countless calls from friends reporting that they too had been contacted and advised they too had won large amounts of money from the ‘fake george’ profile.

The real George has received threats of violence from people the fake George has tried to scam.

“It’s not nice to receive a message threatening violence on me, ‘If you are trying to scam us, better sleep with one eye open c##t’.”

The past 12 months George Viellaris has tried to have the fake account shut down. Multiple complaints have been lodged with Facebook, many of these complaints ignored.

Last year, Facebook responded advising George they had reviewed the profile reported and found that it did not go against their Community Standards.

“Incredible, someone has hacked my account, pretending to be me, tried to scam me out of money, tried scamming others out of money and Facebook reckon it does not go against their Community Standards.

“So what are their standards? Obviously pretty low.

“I have tried countless times to have the page shut down. My friends have tried, and nothing is happening. They are still trying to scam people using my name,” said Viellaris.

George Viellaris has lived all his life on the Cassowary Coast. Working and owning both real estate offices and hotels.

“In a small community where you are well-known it is incredibly difficult when your reputation has been hijacked by a scammer and they prey upon other community members trying to scam them as well,” he said.

The fake profile continues to contact and befriend people. Cairns Local News was alerted to the scam when our Editor was contacted by the ‘fake george’ with the incredible news of our wonderful win.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Corporation runs a ‘scamwatch page’. There are some simple steps to take to protect yourself from being scammed.

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