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By Steve Kelman

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Beware of this Facebook scam

Blog readers will know that I am a real Facebook fan, and it has been just amazing to see the spread of Facebook among folks working in the government (and in the tech industry serving government). At this point, government folks run just about neck and neck with students/former students as the largest category of my Facebook friends, and I really believe Facebook is a very easy-to-use, low-cost way to create social bonds among people who don't see each other all the time, which in the context of government can really be helpful in a world calling for more and more cross-organizational collaboration.

However, I think (not sure) I have discovered a very sophisticated Facebook scam, and wanted to warn blog readers about it -- and also ask if anybody else has been hit by the same thing.

Early last week, I got a Facebook friend request from somebody I didn't know. This generally happens to me about once every week or two -- the people are typically faculty or students in Third World countries, or strange motivational speakers and similar types whose pages show they have 3,000 Facebook friends. The motivational speakers I just ignore, but otherwise I typically send people back a message and ask them about themselves and why they friended me on Facebook. When I opened this friend request up, the picture was of a quite attractive woman. The Info was pretty basic but showed a number of "pages" the person was on and a list of other friends -- just like a normal Facebook Info page. However, there was no "send a message" icon, and without that, I just decided to ignore the request -- though, all other things being equal, the idea of an attractive woman as a Facebook friend is not unattractive (!) to me, as would be the case, I assume, with most guys.

Then a few days later I got another friend request. It was the same kind of thing, except with a different attractive woman, a different set of friends, a different set of pages. But it looked exactly like a normal Facebook page.

I can't be sure, of course, but my guess is that somebody is setting up Facebook accounts with nonexistent (or hired) attractive women, and sending out large numbers of friend requests to guys with the hope that many will accept the request. (For all I know, similar requests, with attractive guys, are being sent to women.) Once you accept their friend request, they gain access to a lot of information about you, to be used for who knows what purpose. And once you've accepted the friend request, they get access to all your friends, so they can send these requests to all your friends, and the page will note that the requestee has a friend in common, increasing the chance the requestee will accept the request.

Has anybody else out there gotten similar requests recently? Anybody heard anything about a scam of this sort? Readers, be forewarned!

Posted on Jan 19, 2010 at 12:08 PM


Reader comments

Sun, May 25, 2014

Hi, last week I had a friend request from a very attractive girl (well, that's what a look at her profile told me). Now I'm 53 and living in Europe and getting a friend request from a supposed twenty-something model in the US. I suppose if I were young and naive I might want an attractive girl to be my FB friend. But what can I say, experience has taught me caution so I suppose I'm just going to have to tell myself that 'Melissa' is just a fake ...

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 Andrew Ryan

I just got one from "Anna Hatchett". She looks like a model, and there are ten pics of who, many of which feature her with other girls who also look like models. Yet, despite apparently having lots of girlfriends, all of her 92 'Facebook friends' are blokes. A bit of a giveaway that it's a fake account.

Fri, Apr 5, 2013

I've received a friend request from someone I know and he said Facebook was doing a promotion for a free laptop and 25,000 in cash is it a hoax they want me to send 400.00 for delivery fee

Mon, Feb 4, 2013

I have received 2 in the last month. Generally, if you look at the list of friends, it's a whole bunch of guys from various places, no common thread, zero girls. Total scam.

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 amelie

I've had these,they are quite clever,or rather...they're quite,the "lady" who sent me a friend invite was a pretty single "Mom" with 3,000 + friends..all of whom tended to have Disney thumbnails for profile pics,or generic -looking photos of toothpaste-ad smiling folk....lots of "Physic" and new-agey sites among her likes,organic gardening,seed companies,all nice,fuzzy "awareness" things..movies..? Dirty dancing..(what,no Kung Fu Hustle??)) Somehow..These requests often just look hinky,in that they're so..bland! As Donkey noted in Shrek..Who doesn't like parfait..? Anyway..if,like me,you set your Facebook profile to only accept friends from people you know,and if,like me..Your facebook page only has 9 friends on know there's something up,with that...oh,and the facebook page in question..? It's a fake page,I created it myself, for my DOG,for the express purpose of gaining another farmville neighbour..(yes,I should get out more...) woof! if in doubt..IGNORE,before they open up chat,and tell you they're lost somewhere,can you wire them money to get home,help their sick mom/grandmother/child,someone in hospital,doesn't have insurance,cancer treatment,yadda yadda's a scam...if it's s real person,got you through a real pal on Facebook,who really wants to add you for a legitimate reason,they'll soon tell you,scammers always rely on your natural curiosity to lure you in,it's just like those emails in your inbox that tell you someone sent you a new message to some other obscure "social networking" or dodgy dating site, "click to find out who it is!!" Click here to read your message!"...If you've never heard of them? delete,delete,delete....

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