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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

Sat, Apr 23, 2016

I recently received a friend request from a young boy who lives in Africa. I accepted because we had a mutual friend. He immediately began messaging me and told me that his father had died and left him, his mother and siblings in a very bad situation. He says he is a student and is also working two jobs to help his family. Last night he said his family has no food and no money, and he asked me to send money. I checked this morning and the original mutual friend has unfriended him due to him asking her for money and her impression it's a scam. This is not a scam I'm finding publicized at all. All I've found is romantic scams and the ones impersonating friends. So please be aware that this kind of scam is out there too.

Sun, Mar 13, 2016 Doug Indiana

Over the last year I have received at least 4 friend requests from women with whom I have had no previous contact or mutual friends. Their profiles show attractive young women in provocative photos, but with very little other info provided. Furthermore, none of the pics are selfies; meaning that they have an accomplice to take them. After friending these women, they are flirtatious, and extremely eager to chat with me on messenger. Then, after a while of this behavior, some emergency always comes up. They are in desperate need of financial help,and they know that such a wonderful guy like me is going to do whatever I can. Of course I don't. Was curious how many other guys have run into this shakedown. Another dead giveaway in this scam: If you check their list of friends, it's always almost entirely male. Those must be their other marks.

Wed, Jan 6, 2016 Thereaa Oregon

It's ashamed something like FB has become so infiltrated with this kind of deception. My boyfriend kept getting friend request from these strange women he did not know (yes he was honest and open about it, LOL) when 'friended' the 'accounts' were no longer active and the person was no longer on Facebook. We could not figure out what was going in but definitely a scam.

Fri, Jan 1, 2016 D

My sister became so involved with an alleged soldier on deployment that he proposed marriage. Then he asked for money to return to the states! Soldiers don't need money to come home! Caution.....he posted a photo in full combat gear standing by a tank holding a military assault weapon.

Sat, Dec 19, 2015 Clint Seattle

Same thing here guys. Been talking to a Filipino girl for a few months now. We met on one FB page, then she said that her ex was hacking her page so she needed me to start messaging her on a different page, with a completely different name. Just a few family members were common on both these pages. I then looked up her real name, and found another page, with her showing engaged to another man. Beware boys, she was beautiful and very convincing.

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