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Facebook Messenger: have you been sent a scam?

Ever had your Facebook account cloned? Scammers have been reported using the details of your friends to trick you into sharing your personal data.

A member recently received a message on Facebook Messenger that looked like it had been sent by a friend.

They started to chat in the normal way, but they soon realised it was a scam when they were asked for their email address.

It turned out that fraudsters had cloned a friend’s account by copying her Facebook profile picture and setting up a new account in her name.

It appeared they’d then contacted everyone on her friend list in the hope that some would respond and potentially fall for a scam. The member was keen to warn other readers about what had happened.

Lookalike Facebook profiles

They were right to warn others – lookalike profiles are a common social media scam that can lure you into a false sense of security because you think you’re messaging a friend.

These messages will often try to get you to click on a dodgy link or ask you to hand over personal details.

To spot these scams, pay attention to the language your ‘friend’ is using – is it different from usual? Can you see the history of previous messages you’ve exchanged with your friend’s genuine account? (A quick scroll up in the chat will show you.)

Are they pressuring you into something out of the blue? If you’re unsure, try to contact your friend another way to confirm it’s them – a quick phone call, for example. You can never be too careful.

Make your friend lists private

Facebook users can help prevent lookalike profiles being used to target their contacts by making their friend lists private or by restricting who can see the lists using Facebook’s privacy settings.

It’s also important to remember that you can control how much data a company, social media platform or app holds about you through your privacy settings. Read our guide to help understand what you can control and object to.

If one of your friends accounts has been cloned, make sure you let them know so they can report it as soon as possible.

They could also search for their name on other social media sites to check if there are any more lookalike accounts and report them too.

Read our guide on how to spot a social media scam

Have you ever received a scam message via Facebook Messenger? What were you asked? And did you report it? Let us know, and help us continue warning others who may be vulnerable.

Comments
Kevin says:
30 May 2019

If you think you can control your online data, think again. Facebook exists to monetise your data, that’s it. Everything else is window dressing to maximise their bottom line.

Use Facebook if you must, but be aware of the unaccountable power you’re handing over to them, and treat anything mediated by their platform with suspicion.

If you want to minimise your exposure, use something like Firefox, duckduckgo.com for search, Noscript for better security, and check out the tools on the EFF site: https://www.eff.org/, especially Privacy Badger.

I recently got a message from a friend. She asked how i was etc. I replied and asked her how is Albert is doing. They said he’s ok. I then knew immediately it wasn’t her. Her husband isn’t called Albert. They went on to say that they had made a claim, had i. Would i like the agent’s contact details for my claim. I reported it and told my friend. The account was closed down the day after. Incidentally the message came via messenger and said it was NOT linked to any Facebook account. So it’s not just Facebook that gets hacked.
Always ask a question about something with the wrong details. Your friend would soon question it so you know if it is real.

I have several messages the past 10 days. including two today, saying there has been a request to reset my Facebook passport, which is certainly not the case — and providing a password reset code., The message has been sent from “security@facebookmail.com” and I have immediately deleted it om each occasion.

Patricia Harrill says:
2 June 2019

I recently got one of these. I was suspicious straight away and soon worked it out. Whether phone or Messenger, these days I always tell a scammer exactly what scum they are. It makes me feel better. (When they’re really there, that is. Recordings and robots are infuriating.)

David Withington says:
5 July 2019

Exactly the same thing has happened to me a few times. On the latest, I engaged in conversation to learn what was going on, and I blogged about my experience as a warning to others. https://davidwithington.com/facebook-messenger-scams-how-avoid-being-scammed/

Elizabeth O'Brien says:
31 July 2019

I received one today. It was supposed to be from a friend on messenger asking how i was the telling me i had won money on a facebook lottery, and she had already had her money delivered to her in cash. IT asked me to click on a link. I did not but did report this to facebook. My friend knew nothing about this.
This was on facebook messenger.

Joseph A Donatiu says:
27 August 2019

I received a message from a close friend saying”Oh my Gos, is this you ?” accompany with surprised and disappointed faces. Then it says: touch here to watch video, and then it requested to put in letters to make sure that you’re not a robot. I called my friend right away and he told me that everyone has been calling him about the that message.

hi there a facebook account called chrishemsworth fan club please be aware it is run by a scammer taking money from you reported to face book but it still there my wife lost 500 pounds .

Diane says:
16 October 2019

What happens when you’re had brain haemorrhage and don’t understand really think relative messaging

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Julia AShmore says:
20 November 2019

Today I was nearly scammed – my cousin contacted me BUT her history of conversations had completely disappeared and her English had deteriorated! I nearly fell for it Beware!!!

Chris Salvary says:
22 November 2019

I had a message purporting to be my friend on Facebook Messenger, saying she had won a sum of money on a Facebook raffle. I asked her was she sure it wasn’t a scam and we had a long text conversation and I actually partly fell for it – enough to give name and address details but thankfully no financial details. It was only after clicking on the link that I realised it was a scam, and I phoned her and she said she had not been speaking to me at all! It was VERY convincing but I still feel like a fool!

Chris, thanks for sharing this cautionary tale.

I do have a Facebook account and I use it infrequently for keeping in touch with distant friends and family.

Overall, I find Facebook to be a really nasty online experience and I don’t trust it at all. If at all possible, I prefer to have nothing whatsoever to do with Facebook Messenger.

One thing I think I have learnt is that the “c” is Facebook should actually be pronounced as if it were a “k”.

I got a message last night from my friend’s messenger account (not a cloned one, the one she uses) asking if I could send her money because her online banking was down and she had bills about to come out of an account which didn’t have enough money it. I set up the new payee and moved the money then the messages weren’t sending properly so I sent her a text and she had no idea what I was talking about. I’ve lost £390 and my bank don’t know if they can get it back again. I was well aware of cloned accounts but I have never heard about this scan before.

marius viorica says:
29 July 2020

Hi , we just fell for this today , did you you get your money back please ?

marius viorica says:
29 July 2020

Hi , we just fell for this today , did you you get your money back please ?

Hi Marius, sorry to hear that.

Have you contacted your bank?

Some has adopted a voluntary code for compensating victims, see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48385426

I received a fb ‘private messenger’ message today from a friend (as I thought – the profile picture matched) asking if I had received money from DHS. Mystified, I asked her why, I had never heard of them. ‘She’ told me that she had seen my name on their ‘list’ and that I should contact them, as ‘she’ had been awarded monies that were owed to her. After a little more conversation, (as I thought, with my friend) ‘she’ posted a link and suggested I click on it to find out further. I began to feel suspicious, due to poor spelling, however this message looked so convincing. It was only when I came out of the conversation and clicked on her messenger that I realised there were two – the real one and the fake one. I never-ever thought I would be taken in by a scam, so beware, it can happen to anyone. Needless to say I did not click on any links.