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Facebook 'Pirates' Fraud Warning


Circulating messages warn of a new type of fraud on Facebook in which "pirates" or "hackers" copy profile photos, use them to create bogus accounts and then send friend requests in the name of the victims.


G=Facebook Hackers Clone Warning

Please be careful: some hackers have found something new. They take your profile picture and your name and create a new FB account. Then they ask your friends to add them. Your friends think it is you, so they accept. From that moment on they can say and post whatever they want under your name. Please don't accept a second friendship demand from me, I have only one account. Copy this on your wall to keep others informed

New Fraud on Facebook... There's some "Pirates" that copy your profile photo and request friendship in your name with a new account. Do not accepts any requests in my name since this is my only and sole account... thanks to all... Copy this post to your wall... Advise all your contacts..

Detailed Analysis

Such fraudulent activity does take place on Facebook. However, it is certainly nothing new. Creating fake Facebook profiles using stolen images and other information is an activity generally known as cloning and has been around for years. Unscrupulous individuals can clone a person's profile and then use the cloned profile to send friend requests. The cloned profiles can subsequently be used to send spam messages and launch scam attacks. They might also be used to gather personal information from the friends of the people whose accounts have been cloned for future identity theft attacks.

Thus, cloning is certainly something that Facebook users should be aware of. However, these rather breathless messages do a rather poor job of explaining the potential danger. The messages suggest that the scammers do no more than steal a photo to create a fake profile. However, a person looking to successfully clone a profile will likely steal a lot more information from the targeted victim than just a profile image. In fact, the more information available to be stolen and reused on the clone profile, the more believable it will be. Concerned Facebookers should make sure that they use privacy settings that guard as much of their information as possible from strangers.

Moreover, the implication in the messages that cloning is something new that is suddenly running rampant on Facebook is inaccurate and misleading. As noted, Facebook profile cloners have been active on the network for a very long time.

Last updated: February 5, 2013
First published: December 4, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
Research by David White, Brett Christensen
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