The Nine Ways Criminals Use Facebook


When Facebook started out, it was a tool for young adults to keep up with their friends. Since then it has evolved into so much more and now has over 900 million users – the perfect setting for cyber criminals. News site, 24/7 Wall St. recently took a look at some of the most common ways criminals are using Facebook.

The fact that Facebook is a hotbed for online crime isn’t a new one. Internet security analysts have been warning people about it for some time and Facebook knows there is a problem. While the Facebook team is trying to do what they can to combat the problem, the truth is that social media as a whole has made it much easier for criminals to deceive their victims as they’re able to access large amounts of personal information that just hasn’t been as readily available in the past.

Here are the nine major ways criminals are using Facebook.

1.     Hacking Accounts

The most common way for criminals to hack a Facebook account is via a “brute force” attack. This is when they will use a tool that will cycle through commonly used passwords, names and dates until it hits on your password. Once your account has been hacked, these people are able to use it to spam your friends list or they sell the information online.

2.     Commandeering Accounts

The commandeering of a Facebook account boils down to very simple identity theft. The criminal will login to your account, either after hacking it or having bought the login information, and then use your trusted status with your friends to scam them.

One of the most popular scams which occur with this identity theft is the ‘London scam’. The ‘London scam’ involves the fraudster messaging your friends and claims that you are stranded overseas and require money to get home.

3.     Profile Cloning

Profile cloning is the reason why you should review your security settings. The criminal will simply take any unprotected images or information you have on your Facebook profile and use it to create a new Facebook account with the same details as your own. Once they’ve done this, they will send friend requests to all of your contacts, who will most likely accept since they think it’s someone they know. The criminal will then have access to even more personal information and can clone more profiles or commit fraud.

4.     Cross-Platform Profile Cloning

This method is exactly the same as above; however, the criminal will create cloned profiles on another social-networking site. Unfortunately, because this may take place on a platform you may not use, it also means that this type of fraud may take longer to notice.

5.     Phishing

Most people are familiar with the idea of phishing emails by now and it occurs on Facebook in much the same way. A criminal will pose as someone or an organisation and will post a link which users may feel compelled to click on such as a link to update personal data or something similar. This link will either direct the users to a form of some kind where they may give out sensitive information, or it will simply take them to a site which will infect their computers with malware.

6.     Fake Facebook

The fake Facebook scam is incredibly simple. A scammer will direct a user to a fake Facebook login page which will seem indistinguishable from the real thing. Here a user will enter their login information which then gets stored in a database. The scammer will then either use this database for their own enjoyment or sell the information on.

7.     Affinity Fraud

With affinity fraud, criminals will completely assume your identity online to earn the trust of your circle of friends. Once they have earned this trust, they will exploit it by stealing money or information.

8.     Mining Unprotected Information

Facebook does offer users the ability to keep most of their personal information private, but many people will still reveal their email address, phone numbers, birth dates or other seemingly trivial pieces of information about themselves. Criminals will use tools to ‘mine’ for this information and much of it can be used for targeted advertising and can lead to profile cloning and identity theft.

9.     Spam

On Facebook many people will complain about the spam they receive from friends in the form of game invites or something similar. However, there are other more dangerous forms of spam, such as clickjacking. With clickjacking, a user will click an advertisement for a viral video or article and a program will automatically send an advert through their account to their friends without them having knowing about it. Apparently this form of spam has become so prevalent that Facebook have now teamed up with the U.S. Attorney General’s office to try and combat the issue.

While some forms of crime on this list may seem obvious to some, they do remind people that even on a site designed to connect old friends and acquaintances, you have to remain ever vigilant about your online security to protect your identity.

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