It’s not a Facebook message you want to see, particularly early on a Thanksgiving morning when you have guests arriving in a few short hours and a list of things to do a mile long…
“Jen: I think you’ve been hacked…”
That was the first, followed by a slew of similar messages:
-I received a friend request from you but we’re already friends.
-I thought we were already connected.
-There’s a brand new account with your name and profile pic on it.
-Looks like this person is pretending to be you.
-I think someone cloned your account!
I frantically searched my name and there it was – a dreaded second account with my name, profile, and my cover photo. And 13 of my friends had already accepted the fake friend request. So, I put my green bean casserole on hold and sprung into action.
STEP #1: REPORT
I clicked on the account of the fake Jen and in the More box (three little dots) beside Message, selected Report. This guided me through a series of steps to the ultimate question, “What’s wrong with this account?” Among the options was “someone created an account pretending to be me or a friend.”
STEP #2: CHANGE IMAGES
I immediately changed my profile and cover images with an accompanying message for my friends that said I had been hacked. I indicated that the account with these new images was the real Jen account.
STEP #3: ASK FRIENDS TO REPORT
I asked all of my friends who had contacted me either in messenger or on my timeline to report the fake Jen.
STEP #4: SECURITY MEASURES
For added security, I changed my password, deleted the Facebook app on my phone and reinstalled it, and went into Facebook apps to remove all the ones I wasn’t closely familiar with. (Most of these were the quiz kind of apps… what kind of muppet are you, etc.)
Within hours I noticed that the images of the fake account had been removed. By late that night, the fake account had been deleted. Facebook support was awesome with their handling of the situation and kept me informed of the progress by email.
THE DANGER OF CLONED ACCOUNTS
This situation made for some interesting conversation during our Thansgiving dinner and theories on the benefits for the hacker. After a bit of research, I discovered that the impostor can use your good reputation for many things but primarily, asking for money.
Several years ago, this kind of scam happened with hacked email accounts. You may have received an email from a friend that they are stranded in a foreign country and need you to wire them money. Or, as happened to us, may have received an message from a friend that said, “Are you stranded in Spain and need $500? I thought we were having dinner this weekend!”
Take precautions and be aware! Don’t accept strange friend requests unless you can verify the reasons behind them. If you notice something odd, report it immediately. Be vigilant… check your account often to ensure there’s no funny business happening on your behalf or to that of a friend.
My situation was successful because I have an active community that notified me right away and, together, we took action. From my perspective, it was not an accident that my account had been cloned on Thanksgiving. Within a day or two, my good friends could have been victims of harassment and abuse from an impostor.
Need more tips? Check out this article on Five tips to protect yourself from Facebook cloning.