David Papp Blog

Beware of frauds on your friends lists

Billions of people are on social media these days. For those with bad intentions, that’s a worldwide pool of potential prey for them to victimize. We’ve all come across a “fake” account at one point in our lives. Though most of these are created by people who simply have too much time on their hands, other fraudulent accounts are created to serve far more malicious purposes.

For today’s fraudsters, it can’t get any easier. It’s easy even for budding cybercriminals, since all you need to do is input fake information to create an account. They can choose to duplicate any person’s information – what school they went to, what office they currently work in, and even what type of music they like to listen to. With their cloned social media identity, they can now trick unsuspecting targets into believing the account belongs to a relative, friend, co-worker, love interest, etc., asking them for sensitive information or cash.

The same goes with big companies and brands, as all hackers need to do is grab an image of their logo from the web, put up a bunch of fake announcements, and they’re good to go. On a small scale, fraudsters can use these false accounts to slander the company, but on a large scale, this paves the way for cybercriminals to spread malware links by using elaborate scams. When you’re dealing with social media, you’re dealing with a network of billions of people. Any attack, no matter how small, can potentially cause irreparable damage to a company.

Online fraud can turn out to be a very serious problem not just for individuals or companies, but for society as a whole. With more people creating social media accounts, it’s time organizations and social media giants like Facebook and Twitter take a closer look at different ways to deal with this problem. You never know what sort of catastrophes may be coming if this is left unchecked.

31 thoughts on “Beware of frauds on your friends lists”

  1. Fake accounts have always been a big problem of the internet, especially on the social networks. I don’t think there is much we can do and what’s possible big companies are already trying to do. We will never eliminate fraud completely, but I think it’s up to the person himself to understand what to do and what not to do.

    • I don’t know if it counts as fake (I guess it does by Facebook rules), but I have a Facebook account i opened using a fake name right after I deleted my real Facebook account. I got that ”fake” one just so I could play the Sims Freeplay on my mobile, as well as other games, Sadly those games require you to have a Facebook account.

      They keep repeating it is illegal to have that kind of accounts, but I think they haven’t done a thing about it because they know I’m doing no harm with it 😉

      • I remember making fake Facebook accounts just so I could play the games without having to spam everybody’s feeds. After a while I just got tired of the games Facebook had and deleted the account.

      • I do not think it’s necessarily illegal to have multiple accounts on one social media platform, but Facebook does not allow one person to have more than one account – at least in theory – since enforcing this is another matter altogether. But it’s in their interest to prevent one person from having more than one account, since their business is in better shape when each account represents a real person.

      • Well, there’s nothing wrong on having a second account for your personal needs, that’s completely harmless and most probably won’t affect anybody. What really is, it’s the concept of catfishing. I personally have a feeling of disgust and disrespect for the persons who do this.

      • Facebook doesn’t do anything about the accounts unless they get reported, and you rarely get reported unless you are scamming people or something like that. Searching for the accounts would be an exercise in futility and it would take too much people to do it for minimal gain.

    • I believe this could be classified under social engineering? I agree that it’s so very easy these days for people to get scammed online, especially those who think themselves to be more savvy and wouldn’t fall for a scam. The younger generation is also an easy target, since a LOT of teenagers and young people just randomly add people on facebook to increase the number of friends they have, without thinking about the possible consequences.

      • It’s definitely social engineering. Young people will add a lot of people, but I don’t think many of them will give out their personal details because they’ve grown up with scams being pushed in their face.

  2. I’m actually glad I no longer take social networking web sites seriously, I closed my Facebook account some months ago and haven’t looked back ever since. I did it mostly because I was afraid I might have been sharing way too much information online. I was mostly worried about those who had fake accounts, and weren’t who they said they were. So I deleted my account for good. I haven’t regretted it… not even once.

  3. There are so many fake accounts around these days – I even have one myself for gaming and competition entries. This is why it’s so important to think twice before accepting friend requests from strangers. In any case, there’s little point in having a high “friend” count if none of them are actually real.

  4. You have no idea how many fake accounts, fraudulent emails, and phishing links float around Yahoo mail these days. It seems to be the primary target mainly because their user base is older than your normal Google mail account. I’ve yet to see fraudulent emails on Google though, but they are so easy to make that it’s almost inconceivable to think that they aren’t out there.

  5. I’ve encountered many fake accounts, especially on FaceBook. Most of the time it is just people trying to fool you and get a good laugh. Other times, there are the crooks that try and get your personal info. Always look for signs while on these sites and investigate if things don’t feel right.

  6. Well I think that today it’s not as easy as it was before to create multiple facebook accounts for someone who wants to do it for the sake of doing it unless you really have the intention and you scam people for a living.

    Can anyone here suggest some hacks or measures we can take to prevent and screen out frauds? Of course aside from the common sense stuff like only adding people you know and not setting your account on public.

    • P.S. I have never experienced being scammed online before and I wish I never do. Everyone please share your tips or techniques in screening out fraudsters in your friend list. Thanks!

      • I have a jolly good look through their profile and posts. It’s not often that I add someone who I’ve never met in RL but sometimes need to because I work online. I check to see what type of posts they make and I also inspect thier friends list – just to check that the people there are actually real!

  7. Being cautious has always worked for me. I don’t use any social media sites, and I have a tendency to thoroughly check everything online before doing anything. I’m not worried about big companies having issues with this, they are always on a lookout and quick to react if someone tries to identify as them.

  8. I recently did a friends list clean up. Not out of ill will or spite but mostly because I had people that even though I knew them at one point in life I did not know them now. If someone friends me and then doesn’t have any conversations with me or respond to any of my posts I take that as they were just being nosy and wanting to get past my privacy settings. I think people should be less concerned about their friend count and more concerned with the quality of people you have as “friends”. I know its not tech related but parents please be smart about what you post on social media about your children…you just never know who or what is lurking out there.

    • I think I need to do this. I would say that I haven’t seen half of the people on there for at least ten years. I totally agree that quality friends are what matters, not the quantity.

      • A month later and this is exactly what I did ! Facebook is a much more enjoyable experience when it’s shared with quality friends. I don’t miss the people I deleted at all!

  9. I would certainly say that these fake accounts are problems. You should always verify who you’re adding if you have sensitive information or even if you just want to protect your identity. Although this doesn’t happen all too often, some people certainly are there as social engineers, and you don’t exactly know their intentions. So the basic rule of the internet applies, be safe.

  10. I am always careful to check out the person asking to be added to any list I have. As you say, it is far too easy to create fraud accounts. I try, if there is a place on the forum, or whatever it is, to send a message asking the person a bit about themselves and if there is any hint of less than perfect English, I have to say I am doubly wary. In time, you get a “feel” for the “friends” who are off.

    I also look very carefully at what the person is saying in any forums they belong to and have been known to do searches in my browser. It is interesting how many times you find the person is a fake using that bit of research.

  11. These fraudulent accounts can be a big problem on Facebook. Many people add new friend requests without a second thought, especially if it is someone that they know. These fake accounts can then be used to gain access to a target’s account because of some of Facebook’s password recovery features. I do not know if they have fixed this yet, but I would advise people to be aware.

  12. Those fake accounts are really dangerous! Sadly, all those big companies like Facebook, Twitter and so on can’t do much about it since it’s impossible to catch every single one of them.
    Users have to be really careful with what links they are clicking and who they are trusting online.

  13. I am not surprised that this is occurring on a daily basis. It’s not only the culprit’s fault for causing the mischief but also the victim. The victim is dumb enough to fall for a simple trap that has been online since the internet was popular.

  14. Fake accounts are really a problem, especially on Steam, the online game shop and DRM. If you own anything valuable in certain games, and even if not, you start to get bots asking to trade and if you open their links your account becomes a bot too, or your account is stolen. Steam’s crappy customer service doesn’t help.

  15. I think it’s essential that we take care of what’s going on in our friends list on all of the social media websites, as well as applications like Skype or anything else basically. It’s important because sometimes they could be hackers that are waiting to target us in any way, and we have to take the extra caution also for the kids, that they don’t fall for these trips and it’s very important that these issues get dealt with. I really hope that people don’t be a target to such a hard fact, the fact that people out there are willing to commit frauds under fake names, since it’s the internet, we always have to be careful.

  16. I won’t lie, my friends and I have a few joke Facebook accounts among us, some of which were created for online games. But we’d never use them for such malicious purposes. And I think we’d all agree it’s important to guard against such fraud accounts. I think I’ve gotten friend requests from a couple of them before. Kind of makes me glad I avoid Facebook as much as possible.

  17. I haven’t been on Facebook in ages, but I’ve noticed a large spike in the number of fake accounts being created on other social media sites. Kik is one of the worst when it comes to having fraudulent encounters. You’ll usually get the app notifying you that some person (whom you’ve most likely never heard of before) has just been found in your address book. They usually send a picture of a fake, congratulatory image of a gift card, usually “from” Apple, Starbucks, Subway, etc., with your name on it. Don’t be even slightly fooled though, as these could be potentially dangerous. Entering your personal information to the link provided by them will be the biggest mistake of your life.

  18. I was on Facebook the other day and I saw the chat tab pop up – It was my grandmother. Now I knew my grandmother hadn’t been on Facebook for oh so long because she’s home battling a mild case of dementia in her 70’s and so I called her to find out if she was the one that messaged me and said “hey”, to which she said she was not ever recently on it. It got confirmed it wasn’t her when the impersonating fraud on the other end said “contact me at *insert unfamiliar email here*”. You seriously have to be careful because these hackers will stop at nothing to get what they want?

  19. I’ve heard that some people create fake accounts so they can use them to bully people they don’t like.

    Over 83 million Facebook accounts are fake. Next time you add a friend on the social network there’s a possibility that the person you are adding isn’t real. It could be a bot or some fraud.

    Facebook should try to make it harder for people to create fake accounts on the site. Verifying phone numbers isn’t effective because people can get virtual phone numbers online.

  20. This is why it makes me kind of nervous to put my information all over the internet, even if we don’t see it often, internet fraud it’s still there and it’s still dangerous. And also, fake accounts aren’t just used to frauds, they can also be used for ciber bullying or even sexual harassment. A while ago someone steal my profile picture and they actually had a Facebook account with it, living as me… it was a really strange feeling! I reported that account, though.

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