There are plenty of Facebook scams making the rounds, but this one is particularly strange.
I received a request from “Linda” (name changed), a relative I was already friends with on Facebook. Odd, I thought. Perhaps her account was shut down, and she had to start a new profile?
I clicked on Linda’s photo, which showed her with her kids. We had one mutual friend, and her latest Facebook activity read “34 new friends.” It seemed like she did have to start a new account after all. I accepted.
Minutes later, I received a message. “Hello,” it said. “How are you doing?” Interesting. I hadn’t heard personally from Linda in quite some time. Perhaps she wanted to explain the new account. I replied that I was fine, and looking forward to an upcoming event. Right away, she responded: “okay.”
Now the red flags were popping up. This didn’t seem normal. Another response came: “I am so happy and excited.” This didn’t seem like Linda at all. Now, I was even more curious. I waited, and the ball dropped. Here’s the message my “relative” sent:
“I am so happy I got 200,000$ in cash from the National world help company…Did you not get it they have been helping the poor people and Retired,Unemployed, Worker’s, Disable, and people’s like us who are in need of money to make there possible living.”
A scammer, indeed! The signs were all there: misspelled words, poor grammar use, many recently added friends. If I’d paid attention to my first initial red flag—the fact that I was friends with this account already– I would have thought to check Linda’s profile. I did so then, and her page was still alive and well. In fact, the latest post on her wall was from a concerned friend, informing her that he thought she’d been hacked.
I reported and blocked the fake account, but it was clear that this wasn’t a case of a “hacked” Facebook profile. The scammer had copied Linda’s information, stolen her profile photo, and proceeded to send add requests to all of her friends, 34 of whom accepted at the time I checked.
Facebook is an easy way for scammers to reach networks of people, and in this case, under the guise of someone they trust. If you happen to add a scammer, they have access to information that could lead to identity theft or other fraudulent activity. In this case, it seems like the “fake friend” was after money (aren’t they all, really?) through a loan scam.
What should you do if you receive a friend request from someone you don’t know, or if your own account is spoofed? Here are a few tips if you should happen to come across this situation, from this BBB article on Facebook imposters.
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, video, or other information is shared by a friend doesn’t mean that it’s safe to click. It could be a fake account, a hacker, or mean 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 impersonated.
Report fake accounts to Facebook: Facebook does not allow accounts that are pretending to be someone else. Here are instructions on reporting them.
– See more at: Better Business Bureau/Facebook Friend Request Scam