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Not everyone is a ‘friend’ on Facebook

When you log onto Facebook, scammers are hoping you will give them a chance to turn you into a victim.

According to the BBB, some scammers focus on online dating schemes to solicit personal information or money. Be sure you know the people you accept as friends and do not provide personal information or send money to anyone without verifying that you are dealing with someone you know.

Another scam uses Facebook friends to promote fake apps and links. The apps or links typically appear to be “a fun new game, a sensational video or clever new update to Facebook,” according to the BBB. I reality, they are ways to get you to click on something that will download a virus onto your computer. Never install a game or an application that you’re not entirely sure is legitimate. Don’t assume that because it appears to come from a friend that it is safe.

The BBB warns you to never click on Facebook posts or install applications that claim they will tell you which of your friends viewed your profile. It’s impossible to find out who is viewing your profile.

If you mistakenly install an application on Facebook, click the “Home” icon in the top right-hand corner of the site, and go to “Account Settings.” On the right-hand column of the page, click on the icon that says “Apps,” and uninstall the suspect application.

The Daily Finance webpage,, lists nine ways scammers use Facebook to victimize people.

• Hacking – Criminals use tools that cycle through a common password dictionary, and try commonly used names and dates, targeting hundreds of thousands of different e-mail IDs. Once hacked, an account can be used as a platform to deliver spam or be sold. Clandestine hacker forums are crawling with ads offering Facebook account IDs and passwords in exchange for money

• Commandeering – A criminal logs on to someone else’s account using an illegally obtained ID and password. Once online, they have the victim’s entire friend list at their disposal to use in a variety of confidence schemes. One popular scheme is the “London scam,” in which the “friend” claims to be stranded overseas and in need of money to make it home. The London scam has a far higher success rate on Facebook — and specifically on commandeered accounts — because there is a baseline of trust between users and those on their friends lists.

• Profile cloning involves using unprotected images and information to create a Facebook account with the same name and details of an existing user. The cloner then sends friend requests to all of the victim’s contacts, who will likely accept them, as they appear to be from someone they know. Those accepted friend requests give the con artist access to his or her new “friends'”  personal information, which can be used to clone other profiles or to commit fraud

• Cross-platform profile cloning is when a cyber criminal obtains information and images from Facebook and uses them to create false profiles on another social-networking site, or vice versa. Because the profile is often cloned to a social networking platform that the victim doesn’t use, this kind of fraud may also take longer to notice and find a remedy.

• Phishing on Facebook usually involves a hacker posing as a familiar person to the victim or a respectable organization. The scammer asks for personal data through a wall post or direct message. Users are often told to click on a link. However, doing so typically infects the computer with malware, or the link leads to a site that compels you to provide personal information.

• When scammers fool victims into clicking onto fake Facebook login pages, the criminals collect the user names and passwords for their own use, or to sell to other criminals. Once scammers have a user’s login information, they can take advantage of the identity through apps like Facebook Marketplace. Posing as a reputable user lets the scammer capitalize on the trust that his victim has earned to sell fake goods and services, or promote brands they have been paid to advertise.

• In affinity fraud, con artists assume the identities of people in order to exploit the trust of their friends and family in order to steal money or information. This is relatively easy because many people “friend” people they don’t personally know. The scammers approach other friends of the victim to work a con, or assume the victim’s identity to ask the friends to wire money or provide personal information.

• One of the easiest places to find basic personal information is on a Facebook page. Users often provide e-mail addresses, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates and other pieces of private data on their profile. As security experts and hackers know, this kind of information often finds its way into passwords or answers to “secret” security questions. While the majority of unprotected information is mined for targeted advertising, it can be a used for profile cloning and identity theft.

• Most mass e-mail advertisements are legal, if annoying. However, the growth of social networking has allowed for a new kind of spam called “clickjacking.” Clickjacking uses an advertisement for a viral video or article to get a potential victim to click on a link. Once clicked, the link sends the user to a page that tricks them into taking actions that they don’t realize they are doing, such as sending an advertisement to all their friends’ walls, buying an item through a concealed page, or revealing personal data. This has become such an issue for Facebook that the company has teamed up with the U.S. Attorney General to try to fight this problem.

Readers, have you had the same thing happen to you? Please share your story in the comments section of this story.

The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, submit details at (click on the Scam logo) or call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened.

We will try to include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the Weekend paper.

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