What the Tech? How Facebook clone scams work

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(ABC 6 News) – Social butterflies beware, accepting random Facebook friend requests or requests from cloned accounts can cost you time and money.

Scammers know if they can trick you into believing they’re a friend, they can scam you out of money, and the scams work. But how?

The most common scam is sending messages to the cloned account’s friends. I accepted a friend request a while back from someone posing as my aunt. In a matter of minutes, I received a Facebook Message from her. She (the scammer) started by asking how I was and how long it had been since we spoke. It sounded just like my aunt, for a minute. The conversation quickly turned to money, claiming she had won $25,000 from a grant program and saw my name on a winner’s list, then pressured me to contact someone about it.

When I asked to prove she is who she says she is, I asked for her son’s name. The scammer went to her profile, saw a list of relatives, and answered me correctly. When I continued to ask questions, the scammer told me to get lost.

That scam likely asked for money in return for more money I’d never receive.

Another common scam is sending a link such as “is this you in a video?” or “Look who died”. If you click on the link, you’re taken to a spoofed website that asks you to login to Facebook. If you do, you’re handing over the keys to your Facebook account. And get this: if you don’t have 2-factor authentication turned on, once the scammer logs into your account they can change your password so you can’t sign in.
A link can also install malware on your computer.

And then there’s the grandma scam. Friends get a message from the cloned account, posing as grandma or another family member or a grandchild saying they’re in trouble and need money right away. The Better Business Bureau and FTC report the grandma scam is responsible for millions of dollars lost every year.

But maybe your Facebook account has been hacked, not just cloned. If you get messages saying your Facebook profile has been hacked, log in to your Facebook settings, then security, and log in to see everywhere your Facebook account is being used now and in the past. If you see one you don’t recognize, click logout. And below, set up extra security by getting an alert on any unrecognized Facebook logins.

Don’t fall for these scams. If friends tell you you’ve been hacked or cloned, ask them and your other friends to, not just ignore them, but report them to Facebook. The more reports Facebook gets, the faster the cloned account will be taken down.

The victim may not be able to see the cloned account as scammers often block the person whose account they’re cloning.