Facebook scammers could be impersonating you – and fooling your friends

We are always eager to alert the Starts at 60 community to the new, increasingly deceptive scams currently out there. Here’s one

We are always eager to alert the Starts at 60 community to the new, increasingly deceptive scams currently out there. Here’s one that had many of us in the office fooled for several minutes – and, when the game was up, genuinely angry at those who would sink to such lows.

A new scheme currently doing the rounds can have scammers (or pieces of software automatically enacting a scam) registering a new fake account with your name – and your personal photo – and asking to connect with everybody on your friends list.

This scam, known as “social engineering”, can be surprisingly subtle and effective.

We recently encountered this first hand, when several Starts at 60 writers received a friend request from our book club coordinator, Karen.

Most of us were a little surprised (weren’t we already friends?), but independently added her without a second’s hesitation. Perhaps one of us had inadvertently unfriended the other. Perhaps she lost her prior account and needed to start a new one.

A few minutes later, she contacted each of us with a message:
“Hello, how are you?”

One reply later:
“Nothing much, just looking for ways I can invest my new Government Grant money, and you?”

At this point, it was immediately obvious this poster was (a) missing Karen’s trademark wit, and (b) intent on talking each of us into applying for a nonexistent cash bonus.

The fake account was summarily reported to Facebook and blocked. But we were alarmed at just how easily and willingly we let a scammer into our lives – if only for a few brief moments – potentially opening each of us up to further attention from those with bad intentions.

What if the scammer had made more effort at impersonation? What if they’d done a little more research? It’s a sobering thought, and serves as a very timely reminder…

If you see a friend request from somebody you have already added, make sure it’s legitimate.

  • Check to see if your friend’s existing account is still listed.
  • See how many friends this new account has (it may only be a handful – a sign that the account was only just created).
  • Ask your friend through another channel whether or not they know about this.

If you are concerned about your identity being stolen, check your Facebook privacy settings to make sure your friends list is not publicly viewable. This will cut off many scammers’ means of contacting your loved ones.

It is also worth exercising some caution when taking online quizzes or polls that require a Facebook login. Many will ask for access to your friends list as a standard practice – which you can deny before moving forward.

We also advice checking your Facebook settings for a list of apps and websites that currently have access to your profile, deleting all but those you know to be essential.

Have you encountered anything like this? What’s the closest you’ve come to being fooled by a scam?

  1. A simple way to avoid this happening to you.. is to make sure your friends list is set to only you.. these scammers want your friends list.. to set about their scamming. so will by pass any one who has their friends set this way. By doing this.. new ppl wanting to add you can only see any friends you both already have.. and of course scammer do not have mutual friends

  2. And it goes without saying (even though I’m saying it), check the absolutely perfect use of English in the message … but, of course, that applies to ANY message you see on your computer, whether it comes from a friend(?) or a university-trained(?) person masquerading as one.
    It used to be that you could be fairly certain that anybody who couldn’t spell was not the real deal, but, these days, the schools are churning out hordes of students who can’t spell,. so that avenue is closed.
    So, basically, treat EVERY message with suspicion.

    • Cheryl Moulton  

      as in the spelling of hoards!

    • Cheryl Moulton  

      as in the spelling of hoards!

  3. Kevin  

    Some respected suppliers ask for a password or “log in via Facebook”. I never allow log in via Facebook.
    Hiding your friends is a difficult one though – it’s one of the useful features of Facebook sites.

    Another really annoying practice on respected sites of all kinds is they accept payment for random ads, not selected by them and some very suspect advertisers result. Like “you have a message, click here”. And the oldie but deceptive “Congratulations, you are our one millionth visitor, click here for your prize”. Or “click here for new Mac computers from $85.”
    How respected sites can take money for unknown advertisers is beyond me.

  4. Adele Ford  

    Warning…A male represented himself as a friend of a good friend of mine. I befriended him and checked his Facebook.
    There was a photo of a good looking grey haired man plus photos of a daughter and hobbies.
    He said he was looking for a soul mate to talk to via the internet. No worries that I was happily married.
    He further stated that he was a British citizen working off shore on an oil rig.
    All of this sounded very authentic.
    Alarm bells rang when he asked me to create another e mail address for him to access me.
    This last request was not in good English, so I smelt a scam which would have escalated to money requests.
    My friend has since sent out a warning to check with her before befriending anyone on her Facebook list.

  5. Rose  

    Do a searh of your name periodically on facebook, and if 2 accounts come up with very similar photos, you have probably been hacked or whtever the term is… Also google your self on a regular basis to see whats going on

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