Imposter Facebook Profiles Can Fake Out Your Real Friends

I got a Friend request on Facebook the other day from someone I have known for more than ten years. The profile photo was a darling one of her holding her new granddaughter. It looked very familiar to me…because she and I are already Friends on Facebook. What’s going on here? We did a little digging here at BBB and found out there are two potential options: either she accidentally defriended me and was correcting her mistake, or it’s an imposter. Turns out is was the latter..

There are large numbers of reports regarding fraudulent Facebook accounts where third parties use someone else’s name, photos, or other information, for improper purposes. The imposter may have a growing network of Friends on the fake account, which was accessed using the victim’s own Friends list. To the unsuspecting individual who gets the Friend Request, this account looks like your friend and has the same Friends. But why?

Several possible reasons. They might be using their Friend status to data mine your page to learn more about you. They may plan to target your Friends with an Emergency Scam (“This is Katherine. I’m in Cancun and I’ve been mugged and need money to get home.”). They may be spamming your Friends’ newsfeeds without your knowledge…you’ve probably seen those where your Friend posts “I’ve lost 18 pounds in two weeks!” Yeah, right!

If you get a duplicate Friend Request, check first with the person to see if they created a new profile. If not, encourage them to report the imposter page to Facebook.

If you are a victim of a Facebook profile fraud:

  1. Report the offense to Facebook by visiting https://www.facebook.com/help/167722253287296/
  2. 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.
  3. Contact your local law enforcement authorities. Fake profiles can be considered identity theft, harassment, and cyber bullying.  In many jurisdictions, this is punishable by law.

 

NOTE: Facebook is a BBB Accredited Business

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.