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Emotional Facebook Posts May Be Scams, Experts Warn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's a scam that's going viral – emotional Facebook posts begging to be liked and shared.

But on Tuesday night, there were new concerns mounting that the posts are not what they seem to be.

As CBS2's Jessica Borg reported, chances are you have probably seen something like this on your Facebook feed – a friend shares a heartbreaking photo of a baby or a teenager with a life-threatening illness.

The post urges you to "like," "comment," or "share."

Tatiana Morin said she sees it all the time -- and it's effective.

"When it comes to the animals or children, any traumatizing story, I think, is heartbreaking," said Morin, of Garrison, Putnam County.

But experts are warning folks that not all of these emotional posts are real.

"What they're trying to do is trap you," said digital media expert Tanya Barrios.

Barrios said such fake posts are part of a scam called, "like-farming." They can put your computer security at risk, or your personal data if you donate.

"It's more in terms of any links that are associated with those posts is really going to be the scam part of it, because on Facebook itself, there's not really data being collected on you," Barrios said. "It's ou getting off of Facebook -- that's their goal."

To social media user Brigid Reilly, the scam does a disservice to the emotional posts that are real.

"That's terrible," said Reilly, of Park Slope, Brooklyn. "That's like exploiting people."

Experts said it can be difficult to figure out which Facebook posts are real and which are fake, but there are a few things you can look for that fake posts have in common.

• The post claims someone has cancer or other serious disease and needs money for surgery.

• It claims Facebook "has decided to help," by donating a certain amount of money for "likes," "comments," or "shares."

• It typically asks a Facebook user to comment, "Amen," at the end of the post.

So the next time you see a photo that catches your eye, look for those signs before responding.

Meanwhile, one other concern is these posts stealing someone's public photos and making up emotional stories to lure people in.

It happened to a family in the UK -- scammers took a little boy's photo and made up a story about him having cancer. The post got 2 million "shares," and 300,000 "likes."

If you suspect a scam, contact Facebook immediately so it can delete the post.

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