BBB Warning: Facebook "impostor" accounts are back

July 11, 2014

Buffalo, NY--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.

Several people have reported to Better Business Bureau serving Upstate New York that their Facebook accounts were “copied” and the impostor was sending messages to the “real” person’s friends with requests for money and spam links.

How the Scam Works:  You get a friend request from someone you know, who is perhaps already a Facebook friend. You don’t have time to check out the person, but you hit “accept” anyway. Or, your privacy settings are 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, there is a good chance you may never 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 impostor starts sending out requests for money and spam links to your friends.

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.

BBB offers tips to prevent 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 or impersonated.

Report fake accounts to Facebook: Facebook does not allow accounts that are pretending to be someone else. Here are instructions on reporting them.

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