How not to fall for Facebook 'Friend Request' scam
You received a Facebook notification on your phone. A colleague of yours, Melissa, requested to be friends with you on Facebook. Strange. Weren't you already friends with her on Facebook since like forever? Did she delete you by accident or did you do something that annoyed her previously but had since forgiven you?
Not wanting to spend more time pondering over this, you accepted the friend request and got on with your life.
Then Melissa sent you a private message over Facebook. "Hey! I lost my phone. Can I get your mobile number again?"
STOP! In fact, you should have stopped at the point of receiving the request to be friends on Facebook. It’s unfortunate that we live in this day and age where we need to be skeptical about every little thing. Why did Melissa send you a friend request on Facebook again? Is that normal? Was it normal that Melissa didn’t backup her contacts on Google / Apple iCloud? Does Melissa talk like that?
Tell-tale signs to watch out for:
- New friend request. Search for your friend’s profile on Facebook. If you are still friends with him/her, it is immediately obvious that the new friend request came from a fake account. Even if a message came from your friend’s existing Facebook account, it is still quite possible that your friend’s real Facebook account was compromised.
- Conversational traits. Does your friend usually talk like that? Excessive or unusual emojis that are out of character? Chances are, he/she isn’t your friend.
- Strange requests. So your friend wants you to:
- head to the nearest convenience store to buy iTunes / Google Play cards or;
- provide your mobile number to take part in a contest which requires you to check your phone for an SMS to reveal an OTP code to him/her or;
- loan him/her some money because
What you should do when you encounter this
- Don’t respond to any friend requests or messages.
- Contact your friend directly through another channel such as phone call, SMS/WhatsApp, etc.
- Report the profile to Facebook using these specific steps:
a. Go to the fake profile on Facebook and click the “…” button on the right side.
b. Choose the options as shown
c. In the following step, you need to “tag” your friend’s real account i.e. the victim’s account
Don’t get "cloned" in the first place!
Now that you know what to do when you receive strange messages or requests out of the blue, let’s reverse engineer the scammers’ operations and find out how to avoid being a victim of a cloned account in the first place. To avoid being a target for cloning, don’t let anyone see your friend list on Facebook! Without knowing who your friends are, the scammer sees no value in cloning your account. Here’s how to do so (based on the current Facebook user interface which may change from time to time):
Step 1: Go to your Friends tab in your Facebook profile
Step 2: Click the pencil icon on the right and click Edit privacy
Step 3: Change both Friend List and Following settings to “Only me”.
Some of my posts are unofficial and may contain personal opinions which may not represent the positions and opinions of StarHub :)
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