A low-tech type of identity theft is threatening Facebook users in South Africa. Facebook “cloning” has been around for years, but has had a revival this past week. We learned about it in a personal way – the brother of an Avast colleague, Richard B. from South Africa, had his profile cloned and notified Richard.
The way it works is that a cybercrook copies the victim’s profile photos, then uses them to create fake accounts. Then, using the victim’s details, a friendship request is sent to friends. The clue that something fishy is happening comes when you receive the request, but thought you had already ‘friended’ that person. One Facebook user explained in an article on ENCA.com that he received a friendship request from his sister while she was sitting next to him.
Cloned accounts can be used to send spam messages, initiate scams, and possibly steal personal information that could be used for more serious identity theft. In the recent cases, there are reports that once the request has been accepted, the scammer starts soliciting money from ‘friends’.
It can also be used for social media sabotage. An experiment conducted in 2011 showed that the implications of this type of social engineering range from mere trickery to damaging reputations. You see, through the ‘trusted friends’ password recovery feature, it is possible that someone can reset your password and gain access to your account.
Check privacy settings and be cautious about who you friend and what you share. This video explains about the recent attacks and how to avoid your profile being cloned.
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