What is Facebook Cloning?
Facebook cloning is a technique in which scammers create a fake Facebook profile by using images and other information stolen from a targeted user’s real Facebook profile.
The scammers may be able to create a profile that – at least at first glance – looks very much like the target’s genuine profile. Especially if the victim has all or some of their profile material set to ‘public’.
Facebook cloning is not hacking. The scammers have not gained access to the victim’s real Facebook account or tricked the user into divulging his or her login details. They have simply copied publicly available information and images and used them to create a new profile.
Why would scammers do this?
Once the scammers have created a fake profile, they can send friend requests to people on the targeted person’s friends list.
At least a few of the victim’s friends may accept this second friend request because they mistakenly believe that the victim has accidentally unfriended them. Or, people with a large number of Facebook friends may have forgotten that they were already friends with the victim and accept the second friend request. And, regrettably, some Facebook users tend to immediately accept friend requests without due forethought.
Once the scammer has a few ‘friends’ on the fake profile, they can then start sending scam messages in the name of their victim.
They may try to draw the friends into advance fee scams claiming that the victim has won a large sum of money and offering the ‘friend’ the chance to also win.
They may send messages that claim the victim has been stranded in a foreign country and needs a short term loan to get out of trouble. Because the recipients of the message think they are talking to someone they know, they may agree to ‘loan’ the money.
The scammers may also use the illusion of friendship to collect personal information from the victim’s friends. A clever cloner may even be able to commit identity theft by tricking the victim’s friends into divulging a large amount of their personal and financial information.
Facebook Privacy Settings
To protect yourself from becoming a victim of Facebook cloning, ensure that you use privacy settings that guard as much of your information as possible from strangers.
If you discover that your Facebook account has been cloned, report the fake account to Facebook. And, be sure to let all of your friends know about the cloning attempt so that they will not be caught out by bogus friend requests.
Also, be wary of any friend requests from people that you are already friends with.