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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

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Reader comments

Wed, May 6, 2015 Miss T

I am a woman and what happened to me is, I excepted a friend request and all of a sudden I got hundreds of request all at once. Creepy!!!! Had to change my settings and password.

Tue, Nov 11, 2014

I just got one from a girl in Mumbai, India to which i immediately declined. I have had several fb Requests from"Attractive women" usually not in the USA. One time i did accept out of curiosity because a friend had added "her" i almost immediately received a message asking me to call "her" so what i did is copied that phone number and did a reverse look up on white pages (i usually do this with phone numbers given over the internet) yellow pages reported that the number had been marked as High scam threat (or something like that. its been awhile) so i immediately blocked "her" and told my friend what i had just found out. I'm not naive enough to actually fall for something like this so i had to help out a friend just in case.

Thu, Oct 23, 2014 Joseph Dumont, NJ

Steve (and other users who found this page and are reading my post, hello!) I also have had dozens of attractive "women" send me friend requests, poke me, or message me. Almost all were from the US, one was from someone in Eastern Europe. Their grammar is generally atrocious, which suggests that whomever is making the profile is not that intelligent (increasing the odds of it being a scam) and whenever i ask mutual friends (always guys) they just say "idk man she was hot so why not haha." What i'm uncertain about is where the scam actually comes in- just what are these profiles getting by randomly friending so many "johns"? They aren't getting any money or anything else from me, but maybe others are fooled into sending things in return for private photos of the "person" in the profile? my only other thought is that some undercover cop or authority is doing it to gain access to more profiles in order to get information of potential targets (kind of like in "To Catch a Predator" except with older women. I just don't know..but if someone finds anything out, please let me/us know! ~joseph

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.

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