That Person Asking For $3000 On Facebook Might Not Actually Be Your Friend

from the this-is-a-public-service-announcement dept

"Fears of impostors increase on Facebook" screams the CNN headline, followed by the tale of a guy who fell for a scam after one of his friends' Facebook account was hacked. Apparently the friend's status said "Bryan NEEDS HELP URGENTLY!!!", and the guy got a direct message saying his friend had been robbed in London and needed money to get home. So the guy did what any reasonable person would do -- he wired $2800 to a London bank account, while his friend was sitting safe and sound at home in Seattle. This type of scam is apparently becoming more common on Facebook, but it's part of the larger issue of impersonation that could grow to be a problem for it and other social networks. Social-networking profiles have become proxies for our real offline personalities, and the fact that people will buy into them wholeheartedly, like the guy in the above scam, speaks not necessarily to their gullibility but also to the level of faith people put into them. For instance, an Italian soccer star is reportedly looking at legal action against Facebook after discovering that somebody had put a fake profile of him up on the site and linked to some Nazi material. Impersonation and false profiles are something that Facebook and its ilk need to deal with sooner, rather than later. If their users' trust in the veracity of online profiles is lost, the social networks will lose a large part of their attraction.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Man from Atlanta, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:36pm

    proxy personality?

    Now I feel better about being a Luddite.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    Face plant is more like it, or maybe face palm

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    inc, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 9:19pm

    pick up the phone people.. geez

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 9:59pm

    duh! People this stupid should have no money anyway

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 11:25pm

    "That Person Asking For $3000 On Facebook Might Not Actually Be Your Friend"

    No (*^&( Sherlock

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 12:39am

    Just another reason not to use social websites, so much to do about nothen!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Bulent Akman, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 3:34am

    Whatever happened to 'trust but verify' let alone picking up the phone?

    What kind of person is so divorced from genuine human contact they can't pick up a phone? What kind of emergency financial assistance sends someone running to update their profile rather than dialling a phone?

    There are a million holes in this scam, this was one of them.

    I wonder if he wants to help a Nigerian ex-pat rescue her inheritance?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    tim, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    while faceplant and facepalm are certainly appropriate names for the site in question, I prefer faecesbook.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Twinrova, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 5:02am

    A fool and his money are soon parted.

    Hey, everyone! I'm your friend and I'm in dire need of assistance! You see, I'm trapped at Techdirt and I need money in order to read other web sites.

    So, will you all please send me $3,000 so I can get back to reading other websites?

    Thanks!
    Sincerely,
    Your friend [insert your friend's name here].

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 5:09am

    From the this-has-been-done-before dept.

    I was in California a couple of decades ago when a guy approached me asking for money. He claimed that his van had broke down and he did not have enough money to repair it to get home. He was supposedly with his wife and children and they were hungry.

    I heard a slightly newer version recently. In Indianapolis earlier this year a fellow accosted me downtown and aske me to pay for a fill up on his truck. He was supposedly robbed and did not have a credit card or money and needed to get to Michigan for an important business deal. He said that he would send me the money as soon as he got home. I saw that guy twice that same night over a course of about two hours. Hmmmm...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    t0m5k1, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    off topic

    i wonder when facebook will employ SSL for their login system because at the moment all your login details are passed to the server from your browser in CLEAR TEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    so in light of that lil nugget & the main topic the social engineer tryin to dupe you may actualy be using a real account! access to which could be gained by some variety of traffic sniffing!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    nasch, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    Re: A fool and his money are soon parted.

    $3000?? I'll do better than that! I have 26 MILLION sitting in a Nigerian bank! I just need you to send me $1200 so I can pay the fees to access it, and I'll split it with you... say 60/40?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    reasonable?

    "So the guy did what any reasonable person would do"

    Maybe I'm not reasonable but I wouldn't wire money without proof and/or direct contact with the friend in question.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    So the guy did what any reasonable person would do -- he wired $2800 to a London bank account, while his friend was sitting safe and sound at home in Seattle.

    You were laughing when you typed that, right? Any "reasonable" person would verify the source, first, before sending any money anywhere.

    Social-networking profiles have become proxies for our real offline personalities, and the fact that people will buy into them wholeheartedly, like the guy in the above scam, speaks not necessarily to their gullibility but also to the level of faith people put into them.

    Again, you were laughing while typing that, I'm sure. Because this speaks only to the guy's level of gullibility -- frankly, if he wasn't so gullible he wouldn't put so much faith in ANYTHING on the Internet, especially easily-faked and easily-hijacked Facebook profiles.

    You need to think more before you write.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    Facebook and scams

    Once again, pegging at an extreme (it's all Facebook's problem) is not helpful.
    Facebook needs to help users help themselves. Before the "victim" sent $2800.00 to London, (s)he could have called or emailed the friend to verify authenticity. I think Facebook or ??? has the right to expect such caution on the part of users, and should not be blamed if they don't do their part.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Crabby (profile), Feb 10th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: Facebook and scams

    I agree; don't dump it all on Facebook. But they should take steps to make sure their login systems are secure. Otherwise, we're going to see the online version of user manuals that tell you not to take a bath with your toaster while it's plugged in during a lightning storm. Zzzzzap!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Facebook and scams

    Peggy peg peg peg
    wtf dude
    is that all you can say ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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