Facebook user thwarts scam; Here's how you can

Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-28 21:46:04-04

Ellen Bourne has a warning for others: Don’t be my friend.

At 83 years young, Bourne, who is just getting the hang of Facebook and joined to keep up with friends at church, says, "I’m no expert, but I am having fun and learning."

Two months ago, Bourne thought one of her church friends was trying to reach her when she heard a beep on her phone.

The Facebook message talked about how excited her friend was about collecting $40,000 from a worker's comp fund, but also how happy she was - for Bourne.

"The message was telling me I was on the list as well … that I should contact someone," she recalls.

But a suspicious Bourne's antenna went up when she noticed all of the bad spelling and grammar in the message.

The 83-year-old promptly ended the conversation and called her daughter, who did a quick search and discovered the message came from a fake Facebook page using her friend's photo.

On Wednesday, Bourne learned someone had also cloned her page and a "friend" had accepted a "friend" invitation from the fake page. Both of the cloned pages have since been shut down.

So, how does the scam work? Once the so-called Facecrooks clone a profile, they usually get right to work, adding that person's friends.

The scammer then reaches out as a "frien"d in ploys targeting personall and financial information.

In Bourne's case, the target is seniors.

"I feel like I should get off Facebook,” she says.

So, how can you avoid becoming a victim?

  • If you get a "friend" request from someone who's already a "friend" -- don't accept it! Verify with that person that they've sent the request.
  • Use a benign image for a profile picture, i.e. something that can't be used to harm you like something with meaning but that doesn't contain your image.
  • Make sure you have the right privacy settings, so strangers can't see your information or pictures.
  • Edit your "friends" list so nobody can see it (and try to target them in a scam). You can do that in your account settings.