Impersonation scams

Impersonation scams; scammers use fake accounts to steal money from social media

Social media cyber frauds are increasing these days. In one or the other way cyber criminals find a way to trick users and extract money from them. Since the pandemic has resulted in the increase of users in social media platforms, scammers are planning new techniques to perform malicious activities. Majority of the users in social media are youngsters. Sometimes they are easily tricked through scams which attract their attention.

By the end of 2020, Facebook witnessed a scam where the fraudsters impersonated themselves as family members or friends of the target and looted money from them.

As per the cases reported, the fraudster approaches you with a friend request in Facebook where the profile would be of a friend or a family member whom you lost touch with in the past few years. When you open the profile you find the person’s images and personal information familiar and you recognize them as your friend. So you accept the friend request. The next step is exchanging conversation. You will receive a message stating “Hi” and “How are you?” After a set of basic conversation, they direct the conversation according to the need of the scammer.

He passes you with an urgent message that he is in an emergency situation and is hardly in need of money. He even cooks up stories and sends you some evidences which make you believe that it is legitimate. Feeling sympathetic about their condition, you will send the money to the account he provides.

This has been a common platform followed by the scammers to deceive the users. Many cases have been reported about these impersonation scams. The scam was found to be spreading in Facebook for quite a long time.

First the scammer studies about the target. He will have a detailed investigation about the target’s friends, family members, social media activities and his weakness. If the weakness is a person which he hasn’t contacted for a long time, the hackers will deploy ways to create a fake account with the profile picture copied from the original account.

Once the target is successfully deceived, the scammers create a situation of urgency so that you transfer the money fast before you feel any doubts about the situation or account.

When you have agreed to pay the money, the scammers will ask for your account details in digital wallets like PhonePe, Google Pay, Paytm. He then shares his number in which the payment has to be done.

During this process, he will thank you for sending you the money and will also behave like he is in an emergency situation.

The victims of these scams has posted about this on their wall and warned their friends not to fall for such scams. These types of scams have been in Facebook since March 2020.

How to understand whether it is a scam?

Users should be vigilant as they will come across such scams in social media. The first and the foremost step to do is that when you receive a friend request, thoroughly check the profile of the person. Even if the scammer is so talented, he will leave behind a trace that shows the fakeness of the account. So, before falling for anything like this, find out the fake factor and save yourself from such scams.

Steps to check the genuinity of the account

  • First go through the number of mutual friends. If the number is very low, it can be a fake account.
  • Search for similar Facebook profiles. If you find another one with much more personal information than this, the first one is fake.

When you are sure that the account is fake, inform the original person of this account about the existing fake profile. This can help them to alert his friends about the possibility of a scam.

There is an option in Facebook called ‘Find support or report profile’. If you come across some fake profiles, report them immediately. If around 4-5 people report the profile, they will automatically get blocked.

To protect from people impersonating your account, turn on the privacy settings and activate the profile guard for the profile picture. There are also options to lock your photos and albums.

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