Facebook Imposters - A Form Of Identity Theft

- jim Young

“My bank balance is a constant reminder that I am safe from identity theft.” - anon


DEFINITIONS

Scammer: a person who deceives another into parting with their money or confidential information for personal gain. This can be done through personal contact, by phone, through the post office, by email or on the internet.


Hacker: a scammer who uses computers and technology to gain unauthorized access to data.


Facebook Imposter/Clone: a scammer who clones someone else’s Facebook account with the intention of hacking or scamming. Most often their intended target is not the owner of the Facebook account that has been cloned, but rather their friends.


The Facebook Imposter Up Close & Personal

I would imagine that in the hierarchy of scammers, hackers and Facebook Imposters, the Facebook Imposter is the lowest on the scale. If I were a hacker I would be embarrassed that these scumbags even exist. Of course I would also be embarrassed at my own existence as a hacker but the Facebook Imposters just give Hackers a bad name. It requires much more skill, knowledge and hard work to hack into data banks, particularly the high level ones such as the Pentagon, Government Offices, Financial Institutions and the like.


Facebook Imposters on the other hand are low-skilled, uneducated, lazy lowlifes that don’t have enough brains to do more than clip and paste. The majority of them likely make less money per hour than they could collecting pop bottles along the road. Typically, their mothers are not very proud of them.


Facebook Friends

So do you really know who your Facebook friends are?


The MIT Technology Review claims that the ideal number of best friends for an individual at any given time is 5 while the Dunbar Number Theory suggests that the average person can only handle about 150 close friends in real life.


The average number of Facebook friends however is 338.


But let’s face it, many of your Facebook friends may really be better classified as colleagues or acquaintances and certainly not a BFF by any stretch of the imagination. Some of them may even be nothing more than a friend of a friend.


If you are on Facebook to promote a website or business, some of your Facebook friends may be just customers or even complete strangers you are hoping will become customers.


Do You Vet?

So how carefully do you vet someone before accepting their friendship request? If your Facebook friends number close to the average of the above suggested 338, would you even notice if one of your Facebook friends sent you a duplicate friend request?

 

In a world where it’s so easy to just click a button without really even considering the consequences it’s no wonder Facebook Cloning has become widespread.


Meanwhile, Facebook has yet to properly address one of its biggest security breaches, the ability to clone another user's profile, with any meaningful proactive course of action.


To be fair however, from my experience, Facebook is very quick to react to delete these accounts once they are reported by a Facebook user.


If your Facebook Account has truly been hacked involving a breach of security it’s a much more serious situation. If you think you’ve been “hacked” click here


But if your Facebook Account has simply been cloned by an imposter you can breathe a little easier. If the imposter is caught early and none of your friends has yet been duped by the imposter, there’s likely very little damage done and he’ll be easy to get rid of.


How Imposters Create and Use A Clone Account

The biggest problem is identifying that your account has been cloned. In fact, you’ll likely never know your account has been cloned unless one of your Facebook friends lets you know.


To clone your account all the Imposter has to do is download a picture or two from your Facebook Page, copy any information that is visible on your page, such as hometown, birthdate, relationship status etc. 


The imposter will then create a new profile using your name, pictures, and any data he has collected. The first thing he will do is block YOU from this new profile so this new profile in your name cannot be seen by you and you have no reason to suspect anything is awry.


The next step for the imposter is to send out “friend requests” to all of your friends that are shown on your profile.


Thinking the “friend request” is from you, your friends may accept it. The more friends he can get to accept these requests, the more legitimate your Cloned account will appear.


The Attack

The imposter can use your cloned account for a number of reasons. If he was a personal adversary of yours, he might start making nasty posts in your name. It could be a threatening post to someone you know, something of a libelous nature or something intended to undermine or embarrass you or your friends. Perhaps they are out to destroy your reputation personally or in the workforce.


Although you may not be aware of any of these posts, one of your Facebook friends will undoubtedly contact you at some point to call you out on the accusations and the imposter can be shut down quickly. But the damage may have already been done.


Fortunately, more often than not, your imposter will likely be more subtle and more interested in scamming your friends.


One of your friends may receive a message from your imposter saying something like this.


“Hey Jim, I took the family on a road trip to Manitoba and was in an accident. Everyone’s okay but I need a bit of money. Could you etransfer me $500 and I’ll pay you back when I get home. I can’t access my email account from here so maybe you could etransfer it to my friend that is here with me at imposterscumbag@gmail.com


How To Recognize A Cloned Account

The number one rule of course, is don’t accept a friendship request from someone you are already friends with.


However, there are circumstances in which you might receive a legitimate friendship request from someone you are already friends with. They may have accidentally “unfriended” you and are trying to reconnect. (Facebook doesn’t advise you when you have been unfriended.) They may need to create a new Facebook account for any number of reasons, i.e.: they’ve been locked out, they want to create a fresh account and so on.


There are a number of ways you can check to see if your friend’s friend request is legitimate.


Search your friend’s name on Facebook. (The search field is in the top left hand corner on Facebook.)


If your search returns your friend’s name twice, using the same or similar profile picture, look to see if you are already friends with one of these accounts. That will likely be the legitimate account.


Click on the cloned account. Here’s some clues it’s not a legitimate account, particularly if your friend is a long time Facebook user.

  • There are few posts as the imposter has just set the account up.

  • There are few friends, as not many have yet accepted the friendship requests.

  • There are fewer pictures than you might expect.


Facebook Imposters Are Stupid

Imposters are very lazy and not likely to spend a lot of time setting up an elaborate cloned profile. They are also very stupid. Look for obvious grammar and typos and spelling mistakes that you know your friend was not likely to make. The most obvious ones are misspellings of their own name.


If you are still uncertain if your friend request is an imposter, check with your friend outside of Facebook to verify it.


Caution: It’s very likely there may be other legitimate profiles on Facebook with the same name as your friend, particularly if his name is a common name like “John Smith”. Of course these will be obvious as they will have very different profile photos and different personal information when you click on their account.


What To Do When You Receive A Friendship Request From An Imposter


  1. The first thing to do is notify your friend to let him or her know they have been cloned.

  2. This will allow your friend the opportunity to post something like this.


  1. Report the imposter to Facebook.

    1. Click on the imposter's profile.

    2. Click on the 3 dots on the top right.

    3. From the drop down menu, click on “Find support or report.”

    4. From the next drop down menu, click on “Pretending to be someone.”

Note: It might sometimes read “Pretending to be something.”

  1. From the next drop down menu, click on “A Friend.”

  2. In the next drop down menu, start to type your friend’s name and select the option you know to be his or her real profile.

  3. Follow the rest of the instructions on the screen to submit your report.

If you have submitted this report correctly you should receive an email from Facebook something like this. 


Facebook is usually pretty quick at deleting these imposters but if you notice the cloned profile still active in a day or two, report them again.


Summary

Facebook has the opportunity to be an informative, exciting and fun community that can bring us closer to friends, family and the entire world. 


Facebook Imposters are just one of the many evils that interferes with the many benefits of Facebook.


Sadly Facebook has become a “cesspool of racism, hate mongering and a proliferation of wanton misinformation.”

I wish there were classes in school that taught young people how to properly use Facebook and be wary of the pitfalls. Additionally, more people need to learn how to respect the opinions of others without compromising their own beliefs and how to determine what posts are legitimate and what posts are self-serving or even down-right untruths.


True Freedom of Speech cannot exist without accountability, responsibility and morality.


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