When you were a little kid, you probably complained that you had “fake” friends, people who’d go behind your back and do or say things that weren’t very nice. Unfortunately, that can actually be a more dangerous thing as you get older and start using social media.
One of the newest scams to hit the internet is Facebook account cloning. According to the Better Business Bureau, Facebook users’ accounts have been cloned which are then used to trick your friends and family and hack into their computers and personal information.If you’re someone who’s up to snuff on his or her privacy settings, then you have less to fear. This scam mainly targets those who either have more lax privacy settings or those who tend to add people they don’t know very well or at all.
How it happens is that you will get a friend request from someone who looks legit, because they have mutual friends with you. They could also work for the same company you do or go to the same school. Once you add them to your friends list, they now have access to everything of yours, from your personal info and photographs to what your friends are sharing with you.This is when they can then copy everything of yours and create a dummy account that sure looks like yours, but isn’t you. Then, they start friending your friends which, if your friends are getting a friend request from you, wouldn’t they think it weird that you’re adding them when they’ve already been added? Unless they rationalize that you had already deleted them, in which case, I’d say screw you and not add them back again - but that’s just me.
Anyway, the not-you then starts posting the statuses or messages that (should) raise your friends’ red flags, like “Please send me money because [this terrible event just happened]!” And, of course, emotion often trumps reason, and your friends might be more than happy to help you out, only to get scammed by not-you. Other scammy things they do, which are often less easy to decide that they are b.s., include sending you messages about scams involving working at home or marketing opportunities.
Worst case scenarios have seen some imposters sending messages with malware links to everyone on your friends list under the guise of “funny video” or “embarrassing photo,” which is something more usually believed by your middle-aged family members than your twenty-something buddies who probably know better, but still, it works, and that’s why they continue to perpetuate the scams.
The best way to combat this is fairly obvious - don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know, even if you supposedly have mutual friends or go to the same office or school. One big clue is that there will often be typos or grammatical errors in the account names or posts. While most everyone these days has a typo or grammar error in their posts, hopefully you don’t get so far as to see the posts by not accepting the imposter's friend request in the first place. And, of course, if you encounter someone’s account that you believe to be a fake, you should report it to Facebook before anyone else potentially becomes a victim.