What the Tech: Cloned Facebook accounts

How some of the things you do on Facebook make you a target.
How some of the things you do on Facebook make you a target.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:10 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Every day a different Facebook friend posts that their account has been ‘hacked’ and warns their friends not to accept any new requests from them. A new report says it’s happening now more than ever. It found claims of fake accounts are up more than 1000%.

Are these scammers targeting certain Facebook users?

We all have a few Facebook friends who, every few months and then, post that their account has been hacked and do not accept friend requests or messages. Why does it seem to always happen to the same people over and over again?

They’ve likely made a few mistakes to make it easy for the scammers.

Accepting friend requests from people you don’t know or friends you’re already friends with. Scammers create fake or cloned accounts to build their own network of potential victims.

Everyone on your friend list and even those following you can see your profile information and when you post updates. It’s easy for them to copy your profile photo and information you’ve added to create a copycat account and build a list of hundreds or thousands of other potential victims and the cycle continues.

Go through your friends list and if you don’t know them - unfriend them. And look at who’s following you. They’re probably getting your information too.

Mistake number two: making your friends list visible to everyone.

Scammers look for accounts where they can see all of their friends, otherwise, they’ll choose someone else. Under who can see your friends list, choose only friends or friends of friends, or better yet, only me. Who can send you friend requests? It’s public by default, but you can change it to only friends of friends.

If you’ve had your account cloned, you may never see it because the scammers usually block the person they’ve cloned so ask your friends to report it. If your account has been cloned, changing your password probably isn’t necessary as the spammer just got your information from your public Facebook profile.

What do hackers hope to gain by cloning accounts? How do the scams work? We’ll look at that next time.

Last year, it’s estimated Facebook’s parent company Meta removed more than 6 million fake and cloned Facebook accounts.

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