What if you woke up one morning and realised that someone had taken over your online life? This happened to mum of 3, Regina Lim, right here in Singapore.
Fake Facebook profile of this Singapore mum
She narrates, “One morning when I woke up, I received a lot of messages from my friends. They all asked me whether I had added them again on Facebook. They also told me that they had been getting messages requesting for their handphone numbers.”
“It seems, once you give them your phone number, they will text you a code. By replying with the code, we’d actually be giving this person some 30 $. I informed my friends that it certainly wasn’t me.”
“My friends knew instinctively that it was a scam. So they reported it to Facebook. Facebook also emailed me and verified the details, and I let them know that this account wasn’t mine. In a matter of hours, Facebook deleted the account.”
“The fake profile looked exactly like mine. I’m assuming that they hacked my account and got my friend list, because my account is otherwise set to private.”
This mummy has since then changed her password and profile picture, but you might get an idea of how similar the accounts looked from the picture below:
See, exactly the same cover picture, and at that point of time, even the profile pictures matched!
How easy it is to make a fake Facebook profile
Making a fake Facebook profile is easier and faster than you think. One approach of the culprit would be to send you a friend request. Once you accept it, he has access to your photos, which he diligently copies and saves. He next sets up fake email with a free email provider (like Gmail), using which he can now register for a Facebook account.
He makes sure that he has the exact same profile and cover picture as yours to lend authenticity. He also copies your contact details, education, work history etc into this newly created profile. If he’s really clever and an extreme cloner, he might even BLOCK you and your close relatives.
That way you are never going to know of this new version of YOU; he could comment or post as you, and you wouldn’t even know! Most cloners go to such extreme measures to deceive or extort money from your friends, posing as you.
How to prevent people from creating a fake Facebook profile
There is really no foolproof method of preventing people from hacking your account and taking over your life. But these tips surely help:
- Do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Do a periodical review of your friend list and delete people you don’t know or remember.
- Privacy settings: Under “Who can see my stuff” and “Who can see your future posts” select “Friends”. Ditto for “Timeline and tagging”.
Set the privacy settings of each album on your profile to ‘Friends’ only. Double check and ‘edit privacy’ every time you post a photo or video, on who will be able to see it.
- Change your Profile and Cover pictures on a regular basis. Avoid posting your contact details like address and phone number.
- Tell your friends not to accept a second friend request from you without informing you first.
- If you find that your profile has been cloned, report it immediately or visit the Facebook help centre.
Also READ: Open letter to all mums on Facebook groups in Singapore!
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