Fake Facebook profiles are a problem nearly as old as the social media site itself. Brands and celebrity pages are particularly prone to copies. But scammers also impersonate ordinary people in attempt to scam their friends and family.
How the Scam Works:
You get a Friend Request. You don’t have time to check out this new person, but you hit “accept” anyway. Or your privacy settings are pretty wide open and non-Friends can see your pages. Either way, the scammer uses the access to your account to scrape images and other information from your profile. He/she creates a new account under your same name and fills it with your photos, interests and status updates. With 500 million people on Facebook worldwide, you are unlikely to spot the impersonator.
After creating a duplicate account, the scammer sends Friend Requests to your existing Facebook Friends. People recognize your name and hit “accept,” not realizing that the account is a fake. They don’t notice anything is wrong until your imposture starts sending out requests for money and spam links.
Messages and links may be obvious scams when coming from an unknown email address, but they are a lot more credible when shared by a Facebook “Friend.” Always be careful what you click, no matter who shares it.
What to Do About Facebook Impostures:
Help combat fake Facebook accounts by taking the following steps:
- Always double check Friend Requests: Don’t just automatically click “accept” for new requests. Take a few moments to look over the profile and verify that account is a real person, not a scam. Scan your list of current Friends to see if any show up twice (the newer account is going to be the scam one).
- Don’t blindly trust friends’ recommendations: Just because a link or video is shared by a friend doesn’t mean that it’s safe to click. It could be a fake account, a hacker or merely that your friend hasn’t done his or her research.
- Watch for poor grammar: Scam Facebook posts are often riddled with typos and poor English.
- Alert your friends: If your Facebook Friend suddenly starts posting links to work-at-home schemes or scandalous celebrity videos, tell him or her directly about the suspicious activity. Otherwise, they may never know that their account has been hacked/impersonated.
- Report fake accounts to Facebook: Facebook does not allow accounts that are pretending to be someone else. Here are instructions on reporting them.
For More Information
Scammers impersonated several staff at a Baltimore news station this fall. Check out their news report on the Facebook scam.
For more information about scams, see BBB Scam Stopper.