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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

Sun, Sep 4, 2016

Even though this article was originally written back in 2010, it is still relevant today because I, a 52 year old male, get 2 to 3 requests on Facebook a week from young, attractive, 20 something year olds. I'm not ugly, but there's no way any young woman is going to be seeking me out for anything other than some kind of scam. I have messaged these woman asking them why. I've even been up-front about it - telling them there's no way I'm accepting the request, but just out of curiosity, could they tell me what their ultimate goal is. I've even said I know it's a scam of some sort, I'm just trying to understand how it works . Most just ignore me but a few insisted that first I accept their request, then they would tell me. So somehow accepting the request is important to them. Which leaves me to believe they're after information and your list of friends. I still don't know to what end - asking for money? So they can mass-market something? I guess I'll never know who is behind this stuff and what their goal is. All I know is, I'm not falling for it.

Mon, Jul 4, 2016 Marley U.S.

I have been getting these the last couple of weeks. They are making me nervous. They immediately start by complimenting me on my smile, etc. However I have no pics of me posted, only of my pug,marley. As a widowed older woman it really bothers me.

Thu, Jun 2, 2016 Ray Leicestershire UK

I've had 3 or 4 to date, all as described, from very attractive ladies from various parts of the world. Facebook just this last week told me I'd had a login attempt from Moscow. Guess the two things might be related.

Thu, May 26, 2016 Paul Mccarron US new Jersey

Alot of people man and woman always asking for money are from Guyana Africa with various excuses

Tue, May 24, 2016 WDH france

Happens about once a week with me, it's usually a 20-something girl looking glamorous and sexy. I just send a message to ask how they know me. After a couple of messages I end it without becoming their friend. The latest one wrote to me in pretty poor French so I'm guessing she's fake.

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