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September 23rd, 2013

Watch out for fake Facebook friend requests

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Facebook users are warned to be especially vigilant when accepting friend requests on Facebook, after we’ve received a surplus of reports of newly created fake accounts sending out multiple friend requests.

Facebook provides an excellent platform for scammers to communicate with prospective victims, and “friending” users on Facebook offers a direct way for a scammer to try and bait potential targets.

The opportunity to lure victims into a variety of online scams greatly increases if the scammer can fool the victim into friending them on Facebook. For example scammers can inbox malicious links to a victim or post malicious links onto a victims Facebook timeline or newsfeed.

Also a scammer can fool victims with romance/dating scams whereas the scammer attempts to trick the victim on the pretence of being an attractive member of the opposite sex. Once the victim forges an attachment the scammer then sends requests for money.

Other scams such as phishing attacks, identity theft and survey scams can potentially be used against a Facebook user if they befriend a scammer on Facebook.

Accepting malicious friend requests can also lead to a user’s Facebook friends being targeted next.

Scammers will use automated software tools to create fake accounts and send friend requests, which can often lead many Facebook users receiving multiple friend requests within a short timeframe, with minimal effort to the scammer.

The advice is simple – only accept requests from people that you know. If you do know the person sending the request, to prevent cloning scams, always verify with them outside of Facebook if they did actually send the friend request.

And if you do get requested by a fake account, always tell Facebook that you do not know the person outside of Facebook, which helps Facebook’s spam filters detect automated accounts.

Update: rumours about spam friend requests targeting accounts with children are erroneous – see article here.

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