SAN FRANCISCO — If you get a Facebook friend request from someone you thought you were already friends with, it may be a hacker trying to steal information.
Malicious users are copying profiles and then “friending” the victim’s friends on Facebook. At first glance, it seems like someone you know.
The would-be thief, who appears to be a friend, will likely even mention that he or she has had to open a new account for some reason.
Then, they will start a conversation in an attempt to borrow money or arrange a meet-up. The scam isn’t a new one, but it hasn’t gone away, either.
Last year, the Better Business Bureau included a firsthand experience from writer Elizabeth Holton:
I received a request from “Linda” (name changed), a relative I was already friends with on Facebook. Odd, I thought. Perhaps her account was shut down, and she had to start a new profile?
I clicked on Linda’s photo, which showed her with her kids. We had one mutual friend, and her latest Facebook activity read “34 new friends.” It seemed like she did have to start a new account after all. I accepted.
Minutes later, I received a message. “Hello,” it said. “How are you doing?” Interesting. I hadn’t heard personally from Linda in quite some time. Perhaps she wanted to explain the new account. I replied that I was fine, and looking forward to an upcoming event. Right away, she responded: “okay.”
Now the red flags were popping up. This didn’t seem normal. Another response came: “I am so happy and excited.” This didn’t seem like Linda at all. Now, I was even more curious. I waited, and the ball dropped. Here’s the message my “relative” sent:
“I am so happy I got 200,000$ in cash from the National world help company…Did you not get it they have been helping the poor people and Retired,Unemployed, Worker’s, Disable, and people’s like us who are in need of money to make there possible living.”
The Better Business Bureau advises that Facebook users be on the lookout for signs like poor grammar or spelling, strange wording and new friend requests from people you are already friends with. If you get such a request, check with the person to find out if they created a new profile.