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Garbled Facebook Message Warns of 'New FB Cloning Scam'

Message circulating on Facebook warns users of a "new fb cloning scam" in which scammers pretend to be you and ask your friends to send them money.

FB Cloning

© Pidjass

Brief Analysis
The message is apparently attempting to warn users about two real scam methods that are sometimes used in conjunction. However, the message is so garbled, confusing and unclear that its benefit as a warning is greatly diminished. (Please refer to the detailed analysis below for more information about these scams).

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W A R N I N G - A New fb "cloning scam"
currently in progress ~ They asking and
collecting cash from your friends, on your
Name.....!!!!!! Please be aware.....!!!!! !

Should any one ask cash from you on my behalf, don't fall for this scam. Inform me immediately via Inbox so we can get this reported.....Co­­py and post this on your Wall to protect yourself

Detailed Analysis

This rather breathless Facebook driven message warns users of a "new fb cloning scam" in which friends of the "cloning" victims are tricked into sending their money to scammers. The message is valid in the sense that it does make reference to two scam techniques that do regularly target Facebook users. However, the message is simply too garbled and confused to work effectively as a warning. The message does not adequately describe the referenced scams or what to do about them. Users who are not already aware of the scams mentioned may well be hard pressed to understand what the warning is trying to tell them.

So, let's try to deconstruct the message and attempt to extract some meaningful information from it:

A New fb cloning scam currently in progress

This is apparently a reference to Facebook Profile cloning. This scam is certainly not "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. Some friends of the cloning victim may accept these second friend requests, perhaps because they mistakenly believe that the victim has accidentally unfriended them. Or perhaps because they simply forgot that they were already Facebook friends with the victim. These cloned profiles can subsequently be used to send spam messages and launch scam attacks in the name of the cloning victim.

They asking and collecting cash from your friends, on your Name.....!!!!!!

Although its exact meaning is unclear, this part of the message is probably referring to the long running "stranded friend" scam. In this scam, criminals typically hijack an email or social media account and use it to send messages that appear to come from the hijacked account's owner. The messages will claim that the sender is stranded in a foreign clime due to robbery or mishap and desperately needs a short term loan to get home. Because the message appears to originate from someone they know and trust, some recipients may fall for the ruse and send the requested "loan". Of course, they will never see their money again and the owner of the hijacked account might not even be aware that his or her name and reputation are being misused in this way.

And, certainly, scammers may well use cloned Facebook accounts to perpetrate such "stranded friend" scams. They could also use cloned accounts to fraudulently collect donations on behalf of the owner of the cloned account.

Should any one ask cash from you on my behalf, don't fall for this scam. Inform me immediately via Inbox so we can get this reported

At face value, this may sound like sage advice. Certainly, you should always verify that any requests for money did actually come from the person who was supposed to have sent it. But, the advice to "inform me via Inbox" could be problematical. Presumably, if a person received a scam message from a cloned account, it follows that the person has already accepted a bogus friend request in the mistaken belief that he or she is communicating with the friend rather than the scammer. Thus, if the person inadvertently inboxed the "friend" via the cloned profile, he or she would just be sending the query back to the scammer. The scammer could then reply, reassuring the person that the request for money was legitimate. this on your Wall to protect yourself

Given that the message is so vague and confused as to be almost incomprehensible, it is quite difficult to see how posting it on your Facebook Wall could offer much protection against such scams. Taking the time to learn how such scams work and how to avoid them is likely to offer considerably greater protection than copying and pasting a garbled message.

To avoid becoming a victim of Facebook profile cloning, remain vigilant and always make sure that you use privacy settings that guard as much of your information as possible from strangers. If you discover or suspect that your profile has been cloned, be sure to warn your friends not to accept any second friend requests from you.

And, if your receive any requests for money sent via email or social media that claim to be from a friend, always check with the friend via an alternative communication channel to find out if the request is legitimate.

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Last updated: June 14, 2013
First published: June 14, 2013
Written by Brett M. Christensen
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