Facebook is littered with all different types of scams, and it’s important to know how to spot them before we fall victim. In this article, we describe some common Facebook scams that start with a Facebook friend request, and how you can spot them before it’s too late.
Firstly it is important to know that a scam that begins with a simple friend request will either be a friend request from an apparent stranger, or it will be a friend request from someone you think you know, like a friend or family member, who you are already friends with on Facebook.
With the latter, this may mean you have been targeted with a Facebook cloning scheme. This is where a crook “clones” an account of someone you’re friends with already by copying the name and profile picture of that account which creates – on a cursory glance – a duplicate account. They then send friend requests to the friends of that account (i.e. you) to trick you into accepting under the belief that it is your friend or family member. Once you accept the friend request, the scammers will try and scam you using one of the scams we outline below. Read more about Facebook cloning scams here.
5. The “looking for love” romancer
Romance scams on Facebook will typically start with a friend request from an apparent stranger.
Romance scams are always popular, since they specifically prey on the lonely, desperate and vulnerable. Dating websites have evolved to help protect would-be victims from romance scammers, but Facebook isn’t a dating website, and as such doesn’t have the same protective measures. Romance scams typically involve the scammer beginning and developing an online relationship with a victim, and then attempting to trick the victim into sending money over the Internet.
Because Facebook isn’t a dating website and doesn’t have the protective measures that good dating websites employ, scammers often turn to the social networking platform in the search for potential victims. And this can often start with a simple friend request.
Adding strangers on Facebook is never recommended, but users should be especially cautious if newly added “friends” appear to be an extremely attractive member of the opposite sex who seem eager to start an online relationship.
Scammers will avoid meeting victims at all costs. As such, one of the obvious red flags is an unwillingness to meet up outside of the Internet. Another red flag is when a scammer will inevitably request the victim send them money. The scammer may claim the need the money to travel to the victim, or they need it for an unforeseen emergency.
4. The “friend in crisis” scam
The friend in crisis scam will usually start after accepting a friend request from a cloned Facebook account. i.e. a scammer has created a duplicate account of someone you know and has send you a friend request. It can also start if one of your Facebook friends gets their account compromised.
The crook, posing as your friend, claims they are in an emergency and needs money urgently. For example they may claim they are abroad and have had their wallet stolen. They urge you to send them money on the promise that you’ll be quickly reimbursed. The scammer will often request the money be sent through a wire transfer service like Western Union.
Any money the victim sends is then stolen by the scammer. To avoid such scams, always be especially sceptical if someone urges you to send them money over the Internet, and make sure you always speak to them in person or over the phone to verify it is actually them you’re talking to. If the person asking for money refuses to talk to you over the phone or verify their identity in a way that satisfies you, they’re almost certainly a scammer.
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