Be My Friend

I don’t know if it’s authors, or if this happens to everyone, but every day I get a friend request on Facebook from a different unknown male. He lists no friends, has one or two pictures on his page, has no posts, and is always a widower.

I promptly delete.

Scammers really want to friend you so they have access to your friend list. And once you are their friend, their request to others on your friend list says, Pamela Gibson is a friend (so it’s okay to accept my request).

Only twice has a woman done this (listing only one other person I knew), and both times I friended them, thinking they were readers. One tried to hit up a man I knew for money, and the other immediately sent me a message inviting me to participate in a get rich quick scam. Both were deleted immediately thereafter.

Where do these scammers get their pictures? They steal them from people’s Facebook pages. I suspect the same scammer is the one who tries a different picture every day, hoping I am lovelorn and one of the guys in the photos will appeal to me. (I’m guessing here.)

How does one get targeted? I read an interesting article once about being careful what you participate in on Facebook. You know all those cute little pictures that come up with a “share if you recognize the model of this car” or “share if you know what this device is?” It’s a way to find out your age range. How about those little quizzes to test how smart you are? Those give the scammer interesting information about your education or knowledge level. The worst ones are the lists: first car, name of your first pet, best subject in school, name of your high school. These are things your bank or credit card company might ask you as a security question. If the scammer has stolen your information, but needs to answer security questions to get into your account, it’s golden when you go down the list naming things.

One “how smart are you” quiz I fell for was rather blatant at the end. It asked my birth date. I put in a false one, realizing right then and there what the scammer was really looking for.

Not all of these quizzes are scams. Some are done by advertising firms to get consumer information for their clients or to make sure you see lots of ads. And some of them are totally harmless, put out there so you can have fun.

Facebook is full of phishing schemes, as are other social media sites. I won’t even get into the subject of internet trolls who try to sow discord by asking you to share posts that will prompt an emotional response. That’s another topic.

It behooves us to consider carefully before we jump in and accept friend requests from strangers or give away information that might be used for purposes we didn’t intend.

Have fun, have lots of friends, but be careful.

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