There's been a rash of people discovering via friends that someone is pretending to be them. I'll explain why this happens and what you can do about it. First of all we need to be quite clear - that an account has NOT been hacked. If it had been hacked it would mean that someone had got into your account, could post on your behalf and do pretty much what they wanted. What's happening is that the account is being spoofed - that is to say that someone has created a new account and is pretending to be you. They will take a copy of your Fbook profile picture, and may try and copy other elements of the account, such as where you work etc.
What they won't have is your friends who have linked to your account. This is where the scam starts. You may find that you get a notification from Facebook that So-and-so wants to be your friends, and this is a puzzle, as you're already friends. However you may think your friend has accidentally unfriended you, so you simply friend them again. What then happens is that they will contact you in Facebook messenger with good news - they've been awards $75,000 in some government backed scheme. The better news is that you also can get a share of the cash that's going begging. All you have to do is to go to a page on Facebook and register your details. After a while you'll get confirmation that you are on the list to win the $75K - all you have to do is to pay a small administrative fee to get the money unlocked and into your account. Of course, you pay up, and they take your cash, thank you very much and you never hear from them again.
This happened to me recently - a friend had her account spoofed. I was directed to a fake Facebook page, which is still there, despite being reported. Luckily I knew what was going on, so wasn't fooled. However, it's very easy to be taken in, so what should you do?
First of all, check to see if you are still friends with So-and-so. Just pop their name into the Facebook search bar, and they will almost certainly come up as a friend. At this point you know you're still friends, so the new friend request is a spoof request. You can just ignore it, or let your friend know, so that they can do a status update to tell the rest of their friends not to accept friend requests.
If you're still not sure - take a look at the account. How many friends does this So-and-so have? Is it less than you would expect? Are there details on where they work, previous postings and so on. Finally, if you still want to make sure, message the faker and ask a question such as 'how is ABC?' who is a friend that doesn't exist. They won't know, so will lie, making it clear that they are an imposter. Again, ignore the request, let your friend know, and if the faker has already got some of your friend's friends added, perhaps drop them a line as well. Also take a look at any Facebook page that is suggested. How many followers and likes does it have? What has it posted? Is the spelling correct?
As you can see, 2 spelling errors already. You could also take a copy of the image and run a reverse image search on it via Google Images. If you do that, you'll see that the guy in the picture is the American Politician Ted Cruz - hardly likely to be fronting a Facebook page about government employees. It's also worth thinking 'America?' How would you, if you're not a US citizen, be getting money from the US government? While you're looking at the page, simply click on the three dots on the profile image and report it as a spam account.
What if you've already accepted the request? No problem at all. They can't do anything because they are not hacking into the friends account or yours. Simply unfriend them, and that'll be that.
If you are the victim of having your account spoofed, what should you do? First of all, it's worth posting a message to all of your friends warning them that someone is pretending to be you, and not to be taken in by it. You can also report the fake account to Facebook, who may (or may not!) delete it. The other really important thing to do is to make your friends list private. If it's private the spoofer won't have a list of people s/he can contact, and they'll go off and look for another target.
It's fairly easy to do this. First of all, take a look at your security settings.
Then, click on 'Who can see my stuff'
Choose what do other people see on my timeline? and choose Public. That way you can see how open or closed your Facebook profile is. If you can't see your friends list, then you're already safe, and don't have to do anything. If the public can see your friends list, that's when you need to change it. Go to your profile page (you can do this by clicking on your name in the blue bar at the top of the screen. Then click on the 'Friends' tab.
Then click Manage and Edit privacy
Then change all of the options you see to "friends".
At that point, you're done. Go back and check to see what your public profile looks like now, and you should see (or rather shouldn't see!) that list of your friends has disappeared.
Please note: this is how it works on a desktop or laptop, I've not tried it with mobile or tablet devices.
While I was writing the blog post, I thought I'd leave a message on the fake Facebook page. "THIS IS A FAKE PAGE AND FAKE ACCOUNT. IT IS NOT REAL..." After a few moments, the thief (or attempted thief) got back to me. I've included the conversation so you can see exactly how this scam is supposed to work:
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY WHAT YOU ARE SAYING?
You're a fake page, trying to steal money from people
As long as the page is here, I'll keep warning people about it. You're already the subject of a blog post.
NO THIS IS REAL AND LEGIT JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU GET YOUR WIN MONEY
No, you're not. You're a fake account. Your spelling is poor, you don't have any likes or history of posting and the image you are using is Ted Cruz. This is as fake as they come.
AM HERE TO HELP YOU GET YOU WINNINGS
No, you're here to steal money from me.
You can't even speak correct English, it's 'your winnings', not 'you winnings'.
NO IT REAL JUST TRY AND YOU WILL SEE THAT IT REAL
I'm not American.
Why would the American government give me money?
SORRY FOR THE MISTAKE
You're a con artist.
IT NOT FOR THE AMERICANS ONLY IT FOR THE WORLD
NO AM NOT AN ARTIST
My Name is Agent WILLIAMS JORDAN This is an empowerment program set up by the federal government to help the communities Your name was picked randomly as one of the winners of the week. The money giving by the federal government. it's not a loan. It's win money giving by the Federal government to help the communities You are being picked randomly as one of the star winners. We will need to confirm some information before we can deliver your winnings to you in your home, the winnings will be delivered in cash to you as soon as the information required are duly filled:
How much do I have to pay?
After you applied and paid €1000 for charges your win money will be at your door step in 8 hours you make the payment i promise you
yes, that's the point at which you steal the money and I get left with nothing.
I PROMISE YOU THAT IF YOU CAN COME UP WITH THIS MONEY THAT YOUR WIN MONEY WILL BE AT YOUR DOOR STEP BELIEVE ME
So why don't you just take the 1k euro charge out of the winnings?
and give me that much less?
We would have love to take out of your your money to pay the fees but from the order the Federal Government In conjunction with the Facebook Freedom Award gave us we must not take any €€€ from your money that you have to pay from your own hand for the fees.
yes, that's because there is NO money in the first place.
I just looked up 'Facebook Freedom Award' on Google, and it's described as a scam
I just looked up 'Facebook Freedom Award' on Google, and it's described as a scam.
I WANT YOU TO NO THAT AM A GOD FEARING MAN AND I WANT YOU TO BELIEVE ME
No the word is 'know'. If you're going to try and scam people, you need better English.
What's the organisation phone number? And address?
JUST TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU ARE HAVING WHIT YOU MAYBE I CAN HELP YOU WHIT THAT
Can you give me the phone number and address of the organisation please
323 835 1436 Washington
I just searched for it. It doesn't exist
What is the address please?
JUST TELL ME IF YOU ARE STILL WITH THE ORGANIZATION?
Which organisation is that then?
Look, I have to get this blog post published and want to include this conversation. Can you hurry up, please?
And why, if it's a US government page, can you not spell Government or Employee correctly?
IF YOU ARE READY TO GET YOUR WIN MONEY OR NOT
Sure. Once you answer my questions.
WHAT QUESTION IS THAT?
what's the address of your organisation?
IF YOU NO YOU ARE NOT READY SO DON'T EVER TEXT ME AGAIN
So you admit that you're lying and stealing money from peopl?
AM JUST BEEN HONEST TO YOU BUT I CAN SEE YOU ARE JUST KIDDING ME
NEVER IN YOUR LIVE CALL ME A THIEF THAT AM STEALING PEOPLES MONEY AGAIN
But that's exactly what you're doing.
At this point he went quiet. Now, if you're outraged by this, and you should be, please feel free to visit the fake page and click on the 3 dots to the right hand side of the profile picture and report it as a scam. At least that way, if enough people complain Facebook might take it down. They haven't yet - why? Because they don't care. It's really that simple. They don't care that their site is being used to scam people out of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros because we - you and me - we're not the users of Facebook, that's the advertisers. We're just the fodder that makes them money, and they treat us accordingly.
EDIT TO ADD:
The thief blocked me at this point, so all of my comments disappeared and I can no longer write to the page. If you're feeling that you'd like to however, please do feel free to warn other people.