Facebook scammers are making carbon copies of legitimate profiles in order to trick users into revealing financial and personal details, in a tactic known as ‘cloning’.
By creating a new account using the exact same name, personal information and profile and cover photos included on your own profile – even going as far as copying your statuses – they can do a convincing job of imitating you online.
The scheme allows them to confidently approach your friends and family members, who could unknowingly accept a friend request from the clone account and eventually share private information with it, depending on how convincing their messages appear.
It’s a step up from the notorious advance-fee scam, in which a scammer often claiming to be a Nigerian prince would ask for money over email, in exchange for a much larger and, of course, completely non-existent share of cash.
Fortunately, there are way to protect yourself.
It's worth being wary of friend requests from seemingly random accounts and making sure that your privacy settings hide your personal details from users you don’t know.
If, however, your profile has already been cloned, you can report a rogue account to Facebook by heading to their profile, hitting the options button next to Message and selecting Report.
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