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Jannie Ruppersberg
 
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Facebook cloning – How it’s done and how to prevent it

30 May 2013, 08:56

Facebook Profile cloning has come into the spotlight and it is a topic that made news worldwide. Facebook profile cloning is a type of identity theft where dodgy characters literally make a second profile that looks exactly like your current one. They then send friend requests to all your friends from that cloned profile fooling everyone in thinking that it’s you. They can then post comments, add pictures and communicate with all your friends using your identity.

To prevent Facebook profile cloning you first need to know how they do it. After some investigation I found out that cloning a profile is very easy and only takes about an hour in total. There are no specials skills involved and anyone with internet access can do it. First they gain access to your complete Facebook profile by sending you a friend request.  Once this friends request is accepted they start copying all your information. They save your Profile and cover pics by simply right-clicking on them and literally copy and paste all your information.  Extreme cloners will even save all your photos in your various albums.

Using a fake email account setup with a free email provider like Gmail or Hotmail they register for a new Facebook account. They use your exact names to create this account and upload your saved profile and cover pics to give this new account the exact same look as your real profile.  This is only the start of the cloning process. Once they have a basic copy of your profile they start cloning everything on your real profile by simply copying and pasting it. Your contact information, education, work history and everything else get copied onto the new profile.

With this cloned profile they then join and like all the Fan pages and groups you belong to. They even go as far as copying your latest posts or comments. They do all of this to give this cloned profile the exact same look and feel as the real one making it very difficult to spot it as a fake.

Now this is where they get very crafty! They actually go and Block your real profile with the cloned one. They do this by viewing your real profile with the fake account and simply clicking on Report/block. Once this is done you will never be able to see this new profile and won’t even know of its existence!  They can now do anything they want on Facebook AS YOU without you knowing that they even exist! With this blocking feature they can comment after you (AS YOU) on a post and you will not see it. They can now manipulate, extort, beg for money and do whatever they want right under your nose and you won’t know a thing. They will even ‘block’ your wife and close friends and family from seeing this new profile making it even more difficult for you to detect.

They will then send friend request to all your friends. Once a few accept the rest follows and you have a major problem.  This intruder can now literally also control your real profile using the cloned one. Example: You comment (with your real profile)on a friends profile that your car broke down and that the day can only get better... your friend replies “Ag shame man... hope it all works out”. The cloned profile then replies on the same post with “Please can you send me some money?” Because your real profile is blocked by the cloned one you will not see this message.  The cloned profile can now extort money from all your friends right under your nose. They can also message all your friends (as you) asking for money. They can post on their walls and comment on anything your friend post without you seeing a thing.

Now that we know how they do it we can do a few things to try and prevent it.

1.       1. Do not accept friend request from people you do not know.

2.       2. Delete all people you do not know from your friends list.

3.       3. Edit your Facebook privacy setting by clicking on the Gear icon.

·         Select “Privacy settings”

·         Next to “Who can see my stuff” and “Who can see your future posts” select “Friends”.

·         Select “Limit past posts” and confirm.

·         Select “Timeline and Tagging” and change all the settings to “Friends”.

4.      4. Change your photo albums privacy settings. Set the privacy settings of each album on your profile so that only your friends can see your photo albums.

5.       5. Change your Profile and Cover pics on a regular basis.

6.       6. Post a comment on your home page informing all your friends not to accept a second friend request from you and to inform you in case they do get one.

Should you know that your profile have been cloned visit the Facebook help centre and immediately report it.

The best solution... Delete your Facebook profile completely and communicate with your friends in the old fashioned way by phoning, writing a letter, sending an email or visiting them.

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