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How not to fall for Facebook 'Friend Request' scam

Social Media Technologist

friendrequest-melissa.png

 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 <insert sob story here>
    • <space reserved for future modus operandi of these scammers>

 

What you should do when you encounter this

  1. Don’t respond to any friend requests or messages.
  2. Contact your friend directly through another channel such as phone call, SMS/WhatsApp, etc.
  3. 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.

 

report-fb0.png

 

b. Choose the options as shown

 

report-fb1.png

  

report-fb2.png

 

report-fb3.png

 

report-fb4.png

 

c. In the following step, you need to “tag” your friend’s real account i.e. the victim’s account

 

report-fb5.png

 

 

 

 

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 privacyfriendrequestsettings1.png

 

Step 3: Change both Friend List and Following settings to “Only me”.

 

friendrequestsettings2.png

 

 



Some of my posts are unofficial and may contain personal opinions which may not represent the positions and opinions of StarHub Smiley Happy

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About Howard Toh


3 Comments
Grand Master

Hi  Howard & All,

 

I am having this problem ongoing.

 

I have a Starhub Prepaid SIM.

Never use it really.

 

For the pat few months having received sms which point a link to Facebook to be "friend".

Only one and only same person.

 

No matter how the message keep appearing.

 

Never response in any way as I ignore and delete whenever it appear.

 

Only this Facebook sms link.

No adverts or any other kinds of nonsense. 

 

 

Anyone have the same problem.

Appreciated any solution to this matter.

 

Thanks.

 

Regards,

Eric.

Social Media Technologist

Hello @eric3743

 

This is not related to the Facebook scam at all

It is likely that the previous owner of the prepaid number that you are using had registered for a Facebook account and verified this phone number as his.her mobile number. Now that the number had changed hands (to you), Facebook still doesn't know and might have been sending you notifications meant for the previous owners. 

 

You can try replying "OFF" without the quotes to that SMS. Hopefully it will solve the problem. However, you will be charged for that SMS and the rate depends on whether it is a local number or not. 

Grand Master

Hello  Howard, 

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

I see.

So there is this solution.

 

Appreciated and noted.

 

Regards, 

Eric.