Almost daily, I see a post from an unsuspecting friend who thinks their Facebook (FB) was hacked. I want to take a few moments to educate you about the issue so that when it happens to you, action can be quickly taken to stop the problem.
Facebook Cloning / Facebook Hijack
This is the one that I see most often. A user’s profile appears to be copied and the user’s friends are invited to the new profile. The person who create’s this fake profile is a “scammer” that wants to trick a few people into handing over money. It is online theft. By the time the victim realizes that their money was stolen, the scammer is long gone. Can a scammer be arrested for this type of theft? Yes, if they get caught. It’s just hard to catch them. Sometimes, they don’t even reside in the United States.
Before I teach you how to fix it, I want to teach you how it is done. Yes, I am teaching you how to engage in criminal behavior. As you learn the steps, I will also teach you how to protect yourself from becoming a victim. Do NOT follow these instructions. I’m just teaching you so you know how it is done.
- Post a photo of a cute puppy. Make sure it’s a super cute puppy because you want as many people to like your post as possible. You want this post to go way viral. In the description, say something like, “My poor puppy is sick and thinks he is unloved. Please like this post and share with your friends. Also, let him know that you are praying for him by typing “Amen” in the comments. I will tell my puppy that he is loved by you. My puppy will be so happy.”
- Now wait. You are going to love this. Within 24 hours, if you wrote something really cute, the post will go viral and will get thousands of likes. Also, many will comment. These are your targets. They will believe anything so they probably have friends that will believe anything too. Since you are new to this, start off with one person that responds and go to their page. Pick someone with a lot of friends. Sometimes you can see how many friends they have by hovering your mouse over their name. Once you find a target, go to their page.
- Whatever you do, do not friend this person. All you want to do is copy some of their stuff.
- Copy their profile:
- Write down their name
- Click on their profile photo. Click options (bottom right-hand of photo) and click download. Save to your desktop. Do this for a few of their photos.
- Click on their cover photo. Same thing. Save photos to desk-top.
- Click on their friends tab. Leave this screen open and come back to it later
- Create a new profile
- Open up a different browser. For example, if you are using Chrome, open Internet Explorer as well. You can’t log in to two different FB accounts at the same time if you are using one browser. On the new browser, go to FB and make sure you are logged out.
- Set up a new FB profile. You will need to create a fake-real email address or phone number. Google is easy. Just create a new email address with the target’s name. If you need a phone number, there are ways to create temporary phone numbers on the internet as well.
- On the new FB profile, enter the target’s name and upload their profile photos. Copy as much as you can from the other browser to the new browser. You want the new profile to look like the original profile.
- Now, go back to the target’s friend list, right-click on the friend’s name and copy the link to their profile. Return to the fake profile and paste the link into the browser. Click add friend.
- Keep adding friends. People will quickly add you as a friend because they think they are adding their friend. Take note of those that friend you first. Those can be your first victims… I mean, friends that you chat with.
- Now, as people start friending you back, start chatting. Have simple conversations. Start with “hi” or something. Get the conversation going. Some might call you a fake. You can ignore them. They are already on to what you are doing so there is no point in continuing the conversation. For those that have talks with with, don’t spring the “need” on them right away. Take a break and come back to the conversation later. When the time is right, start asking them for money. You might add hundreds of friends. Someone will fall for it so be persistent until you find that special one.
- After you’ve successfully received the funds, close the account. Delete the email address. Don’t return.
How to minimize the risk of being cloned
- Don’t LIKE everything you see. It’s probably okay if it is a friend’s post. Some posts (not created by friends) are called “like-farms.” The poster intends for the post to go viral and often requests that you like, share, and comment.
- Protect your friends list. Go to your friends list and click the “Edit Privacy” button. Make sure that those “Who Can See Your Friends List” is NOT set as Public. Set it as Friends, Friends except Acquaintances, or Only Me. If you set it as Public, then anybody can see your friends list.
- Do not friend people you don’t know. If you do, and you have your friends list open to friends, they can copy your friends list
- Do not post your photos as public. Your profile photo is public and you can’t prevent that from being copied but you can prevent pretty much everything else from being copied.
Your friend’s FB has been cloned – How do I have the page removed?
- Go to the fake page
- Click the three dots in the bottom-right hand of the cover-photo.
- Click Report / Report this Profile / They’re pretending to be me or someone I know / Someone I know / Message your friend / Type your friend’s name and click send.
- Your friend will need to report the page as a fake
You’ve FB has been cloned – How do I have the page removed?
- Go to the fake page. Hopefully, a friend shared the link with you.
- Click the three dots in the bottom-right hand of the cover-photo.
- Click Report / Report this Profile / They’re pretending to be me or someone I know / Me / Submit to Facebook for Review
- Facebook will likely take the page down immediately or soon after they investigate the page.
While you’re at it… here are some other FB tips to protect yourself
- Don’t give apps (quizzes / analysis / etc) permissions if you don’t intend to use the app often.
- Remove apps you no longer need. Go to your FB settings (down arrow, top-right-hand-corner of screen.) Select the apps screen. Click show-all. Delete anything and everything you don’t use or recognize. Each app has permissions. These permissions continue even if you change your password.
- Review this page on other ways to keep your FB account safe. https://www.facebook.com/help/keeping-your-account-secure
- Create a unique password just for FB. In fact, you should use a unique password for anything and everything you log in to. For about $1 a month (billed annually), you can subscribe to LastPass. LastPass helps me to manage all of my passwords. I was cautious at first but have come to trust and rely on the service it provides. Here is a referral code. Click this link, set up an account, and both you and I will receive a free month of premium. https://lastpass.com/f?18505442
If you have other tips, please comment on this post. Also, feel free to share the link to this post with your friends who might find the information informative.
Blessings to you!