Earlier today, I "retweeted" David Strom, who pointed to this story: Woman's Facebook Account Hacked, Friends Ripped Off. The short version is after the account was broken into, the bad-guy sent a message to all of her friends currently on-line. "The message sent to her friends was a desperate plea for cash. ... 'hey I'm in London I just got mugged, my phone, my credit card was stolen, please send money so I can get home.'"
My friend, Diane, replied to my repost on Facebook, and said, "That's scary! Thanks for sharing!"
Let's do more. What should you do? You should first take a deep breath. (No, not now! I mean, when you see such a plea purported to be from a friend.) It may be a real emergency, but that does not mean there is no time to think.
And that's the next thing to do. Think. Is your friend really out of the country? Do you have her phone number? Can you phone her to check? Is she still on Facebook? Can you ask her to verify her identity?
That's the third thing. Verify. If she is a friend, surely there is a way to do this that is not already in her profile on Facebook. If you cannot come up with a way to verify her identity, then she is probably not close enough of a friend for you to wire $1000 to her. (Remember, she didn't say she was stuck in an Afghan prison, she said "London." Not so bad, really. She can wait a bit. And if she says she is in an Afghan prison, don't believe it. They do not have Internet-connected computers in the cells. At least I doubt it.) In fact, that is what the victim recommends in the news story.
Breath. Think. Verify.