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.