Facebook Security:

Don’t let your friends get scammed ...

... Half of you will!

About 7 months ago, I got a friend request from someone I knew well and accepted it without thinking. Soon after, I got a message (on Facebook messenger) from them asking how I was. I replied but started thinking something wasn’t right … it didn’t “sound” like them.

It struck me that they were already on my friends list. So why the new friend request? (It does sometimes happen that friends change their mobile phone and have forgotten their login credentials so just set up a new account.) However, in this case my friend soon posted on their existing account saying that they had been “hacked”.

The other week the same thing happened with another friend. I got a friend request from them. It turned out to be the same type of scam. It appears to be happening regularly on Facebook.

So what is actually happening. Are people “hacking” your account?

Well, no. The only thing these scammers are doing is “copying” your account. This is very easy to do. I’ll set out briefly below how it’s done just so you can understand how easy it is to do. But DO NOT DO THIS. It is computer misuse and fraud! I’ll also explain why they are doing it, so you can understand the risks you or your friends face. Finally, I’ll show you a SIMPLE step that EVERYONE should take that will prevent this type of scam.

In a random sample of complete strangers, about HALF of the Facebook accounts I looked at NEED to do this or their friends could be open to scammers.

First - How the scammers copy your account

It’s very easy to look up random people on Facebook. Just type any name into the search box …

….. such as “Joe Bloggs” or “Harry Smith” etc., and you will get a list of people with that name. You can then select one and look at their profile and timeline. The amount of information you will see depends upon their security settings but in about half the examples I looked at, I could see their friends list: This is the type of account the scammer is loolling for.

The first thing the scammer will do after picking such an account is open the profile picture and download it onto his or her device. Once they have the photo (in a matter of seconds) they can go to a fresh device and set up a new Facebook account using this photo and with the same name as the person who’s photo it really is.

All done. In a matter of seconds!

All they do then is log into their new “copied” account, look-up the same person again, look at their friends list and click “Add friend” for each one. This is exactly how you can appear to get a new friend request from someone who is already your friend on facebook!

Second – Why are they doing it?

If it’s your account that’s been copied, then it’s not you they are trying to scam. Rather it’s your friends who are going to be the targets!

We tend to trust people we know and the scammers are using this fact to attempt their various scams. A report in the Independent Newspaper in 2017 suggests that “[the] scheme allows them to confidently approach your friends and family members, who could unknowingly accept a friend request from the clone account and eventually share private information with it, depending on how convincing their messages appear.”

The Newspaper article went on to say how you could report it to Facebook but neglected to say how you could prevent it happening in the first place. I will show you how to do this below.

However, I’d just like you to imagine some of your friends accept this type of bogus friend request. You may not even know anything about it. Say you then go off on holiday somewhere and post the fact on Facebook. The scammer could be monitoring your postings. Then the scammer sends some private messages to your friends, stating that you are stuck (in the location he or she knows you’re at) and requests that they send some money by Western Union and that you’ll repay them when you return.

How would you feel if several of your friends were scammed in this way because you hadn’t done as I set out below?

Think of your friends and check this now!

Third – A simple step to prevent it

The scammer will only be able to operate this scam if he or she can see your friends list and you can STOP THIS HAPPENING NOW!

Only your friends should be able to see other friends. To set this up on your Mobile or PC follow the steps below.

AND make sure you share this article with your friends on facebook.


For mobile :

1. Open Facebook and click on the settings icon on the top right of the screen ...

This will open a menu page that looks like the picture at the side.

2. Scroll down until you find “Settings” with the cog icon and click this.

This will open the “Settings” screen.

3. Scroll down until you get to “Privacy settings” and click this.

This will open the “Privicy settings” screen.

4. Scroll down again until you find “Who can see your friends list?” 5. Make sure this is NOT set to Public – If it is CHANGE IT NOW!

For PC :

1. Choose the menu drop-down icon on the top right

2. Select “Settings”

3. Select “Privacy” on the left. 4. Then check “Who can see your friends list?” in the main window. Make sure this is NOT set to Public – If it is CHANGE IT NOW!

Published 17th April 2020


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