Thursday, 20 April 2017

Facebook scammers

It starts off very innocently enough. You log into your facebook account and find that facebook has made some suggestions for you to befriend this and that person. Sometimes, the suggestion may come to you via an automated email from facebook. The name of one of them looks very familiar to you - you think, it must belong to someone you know - and so, without further hesitation or further checking, you click on the "Add Friend" button. That's when the problem begins. One or two days later, you or even your other genuine facebook friends suddenly receive scam messages on facebook or even scam telephone calls from overseas. If you are unlucky, you may fall for the scam. Very expensively. And you don't even know how it started.

Well, this is just one way it started. By befriending someone on facebook, or even LinkedIn, without conducting due diligence on the request. I'm always careful when it comes to befriending people on facebook. There are at least 50 friend requests outstanding in my own facebook account which I don't bother to do anything about. I just let them be. Better be safe than sorry.

What brings on this story? Well, a few hours ago, my wife was alerted by an old friend that facebook had suggested that he be friends with her. But he knew that my wife was already his facebook friend. Why would she be opening another facebook account? So he checked on that suggestion and found that there was another facebook account with her name but which sported a different profile picture. In fact, a picture of a young bald male giving the Nazi salute. Immediately, he contacted my wife. Naturally, she was distressed and asked me to do something about it. Actually, there is nothing I could do. Technically, her real account wasn't compromised. It was just simply someone from across the world randomly using her name to open another account...the scam account. Report to facebook? Yah, sure. Only problem was that facebook makes it so difficult for anyone to contact them. I still haven't found out how.

But what I can do in the meantime is to contact the people on this scammer's friends' list. Contact them to tell them to unfriend themselves from this bugger immediately. Thank goodness that I've managed to get four of them off the list. And some of them told me that either they or their friends have received mysterious telephone calls from overseas over the past two days.

The moral of this story: be careful of who you befriend on facebook or other websites like LinkedIn. The name of the requester may be familiar but please double-check on the profile picture, if it is available. Otherwise, it may be wise for you to contact the other person the old-fashioned way to ascertain that it is really him or her. Stay safe on the Internet.

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