Facebook Cloning

cloning

So, a real friend on Facebook messages you to say " I got another friend request from you yesterday which I ignored so you may want to check your account.”  What's going on? Should you "hold your finger down and forward the message?" 

I'm reading many articles that say these kinds of messages are a scam. And other articles that say they are real. Both are true. I received messages from a cloned account of a friend. It didn't say to forward it, but it did try to get me to take the bait on a money scam.

Facebook cloning is when scammers create a fake Facebook profile by using images and other information stolen from a legitimate user’s real Facebook profile. That cloned account looks very much like the genuine profile because it uses photos and information that the victim has made “public.”  Using that cloned fake profile, friend requests are sent to people on the real accounts friends list.

Why would you accept a second friend request? Maybe you don't remember ever friending this person. I accepted one because the person who was cloned was someone who very rarely used Facebook, so I assumed she was new. Maybe you thought you had "unfriended" that person by mistake or on purpose and now wanted to reconnect. Maybe you have so many Facebook friends that you can't keep track. Maybe you want friends so badly that you just accept any requests.

What warned me was that I was the only friend listed on this cloned account. I reported the account to Facebook and warned the real person. The fake was taken down.

Facebook itself is not doing this, so don't blame them this time, though they need to put some further privacy policies in place. The cloning is being done by people with bad intentions. In many cases they are trying to lure people into scams offering the chance to "win" large sums of money. The one that I was offered said that my "friend" had gotten $500,000 from the government and my name was on "the list" to also get money. Other people have gotten messages that claim the victim has been stranded in a foreign country and needs a short-term loan to get out of trouble. 

The scams are not new. These scams went from snail mail and phone calls to email and now social media.

Some of the warnings you're seeing now are false. It has become a meme. Some warnings are legitimate. Either way, it is a good idea to protect your identity on and off the Internet.

This article on "How To Protect Your Facebook Account From Cloning" has some good general privacy hygiene for Facebook. 

Hide Your Friends List - You have that ability, so use it. Yes, I like being able to see the friends of my friends (who may be potential friends for me) but that is your choice.
friends listRun A “Privacy Checkup” by clicking the “Lock” icon at the top right of your Facebook profile. You should probably set them to “Friends” or “Only Me” rather than “Public”:

Facebook also allows you to view your profile as the “Public” sees it. That public includes all the scammers. Your photos would be the way the way a cloner would start making the fake version of you.

If you discover that your Facebook account has actually been cloned, report the fake account to Facebook and, yes, then warn friends not to accept any friend requests that look like they came from you.