Earlier this month, I received a friend request from someone I knew I had already connected with last year. I was a little perplexed but sometimes people set up non-work accounts or cancel and then re-sign up so I didn't think much of it. Even though she never really uses Facebook that much because we mostly communicate once a week or less via email, etc., I thought she was getting more active on Facebook and reaching out so I re-accepted.
Randomly on September 2, the same day I got her new friend request, I received a message from what I thought was her: "how are you doing today?" I didn't answer right away as I was bustling around downtown San Francisco and didn't have a chance to get back to her. She hit me up again that same day with another random "hello." Feeling bad that I hadn't responded right away before, I quickly replied with a "Hey [redacted]!"
When I first became suspicious, I perused my friend's account to see how she was using Facebook in general. One person had said on her wall, "Hey I thought we were already connected here, but no problem. Glad to see you on Facebook!" That kinda confirmed my gut feeling that something was weird. What appeared to be her responding to posts on her own wall was not her at all I found out later. Yikes.
As you can see in the screen shots, following the fairly innocuous exchange that almost had me hooked for a second, this person plunges right into a horrible impersonation attempt, not taking into account how random they sound and how obvious this whole sham comes off. How they thought roping Robert Casey Jr. into the conversation would be the clincher I have no idea. On screen shot #4 you can even see where I tried to get them to stop by saying "I know who this is" maybe to psych them out a little bit and yet, they kept on coming back with more.
The scary thing is that this person was interacting with her family, coworkers and friends on her wall pretending to be her. It freaks me out to think about someone trying to interact with my kids while pretending to be me.
Mind your social business
Nowadays, most of the time we can rely on our friends to get a hold of us when something spammy shows up on our Twitter feed or Facebook account that doesn't appear to come from us. In this case though, my coworker had set up an account intended only for checking in with her family every couple of months. The hacker's access to her account set the stage for possible access to hundreds of her friends, family, business connections, etc. without her really knowing until I had emailed her personally. I guess the reminder here is to make sure that if you set up an account anywhere, whether it be email or social network, be sure to consistently check these online properties for your own safety and change your passwords regularly.
Have you or any of your friends' Facebook accounts ever been hacked and/or exploited? How far did it go before you realized what was going on?
Note: When it first happened, I Googled "Robert Casey Jnr" and the email addresses "email@example.com" and "firstname.lastname@example.org" and got nothing. I tried it again before this post, still nothing.
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