As Facebook grows in popularity, so do scams and scammers taking advantage of the Facebook platform. Scammers create fake Facebook profiles and then request to be your friend to gain access to the personal information on your profile that you restrict to "friends only". The scammers may use this information to spam you or to set you up for a phishing attack.
Different types of Facebook scams and scammers:
Some scammers that want to friend you post links to malware or phishing sites. These links may end up in your Facebook newsfeed.
Phishing for Love
As anyone who has been on a dating website, like Match.com or PlentyofFish, and as shown on the MTV television show "Catfished", scammers create fake Facebook profiles with sexy, hot photos, usually of gorgeous women. These Catphishers may often use pictures of models then send out random friend requests to huge numbers of people to find a willing victim. The victim is eventually receive requests for money, as the scammer claims to be in some form of predicament, like arrested or stranded in a foreign country during a trip.
Some creepy guy from the grocery store or church, a neighbor, or a woman who is obsessed with a guy may all use a fake Facebook profile to gain more information about the person who is the target of their obsessession
Ex's Seeking Revenge
When relationships end on bad terms, you typically unfriending your ex. You may think that that ends their access to your Facebook profile, but , but they may create a fake profile and then friend you using their new alias. This allows them to keep up with you, without you knowing that it's them! This can work on other social media websites, too, like LinkedIn.
Your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend or significant other may try to test your faithfulness by creating a fake Facebook profile using an photos of person they think you would find attractive to lure you into accepting their friend request. Next they will test you by trying to get you to respond to intimate posts or chats.
In a bitter divorce, they may even print the posts to use it against you later in court.
PI's may also use fake Facebook profile friend requests to help them learn more about you.
How Do You Recognize a Fake Facebook Profile?
- Do You Know the Person Who Is Requesting the Friend?
- Do You Have Any Friends in Common With Them?
- Does the Friend Request Come From an Attractive Person of the Opposite Gender?
- Does the Request Come From a Person With a Very Short Facebook History?
- Does the Requestor Have a Unusually Small Number of Freinds?
- Does the Requestor Have an Unusually Large Number of Friends?
- Are their friends mostly global or local? The more global their friendship list, with very few or no local friends, is more likely a fake account.
- Are the Requestor's Friends All the Same Sex?
- Is There Very Little Personal Content on Their Timeline?
Barracuda Labs listed the common differences between fake and real profiles. Fake accounts generally have over 700 friends while real people average around 130. Fake profiles have 136 tags for every four photos while real people have about one for every four. 97% of the Fake Profiles claim to be women.
What to Do If You Think You Have Accepted a Fake Friend Request
If you are a victim of a Facebook profile fraud:
- Report the offense to Facebook by visiting https://www.facebook.com/help/167722253287296/
- Spread the word to your friends that there is a fake profile so they don't put themselves at risk by accepting the friend request.
- Contact your local law enforcement authorities. Fake profiles may be considered identity theft, harassment, and cyber bullying. In many jurisdictions, this is punishable by law. - See more at: http://www.bbb.org/blog/2013/07/imposter-facebook-profiles-can-fake-out-your-real-friends/#sthash.d9RlPeAf.dpuf
- Unfriend them after documenting or printing out their profile!
How to report a Fake Facebook Profile to Facebook
If you come across an account that violates the Facebook Terms:
- Go to the Timeline
- Click the and then select Report/Block
- Follow the on-screen directions to file a report
And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive. We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!
- Facebook.com "Scams Page"
- ABC News "Fraudsters' Latest Scheme: Sending Fake Funeral Notices for Family, Friends"
- Better Business Bureau
- Huffington Post
- Huffington Post "9 Most Common Facebook Attacks"
- Northeastern University
- Facebook: 83 Million accounts are fake
- Attackers Use Fake Friends to Blend into Facebook
Facebook Social Engineering Attack Strikes Nato