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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.

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.