Hyderabad: Are you sure there is only one you on Facebook? Better check. Searching one’s own name on Facebook is something many are doing these days, not as part of ego browsing, but to find if there are any impersonators with a fake profile of them out there.
Though identity theft on social media, i.e. creating a fake profile on someone’s name for ulterior motives, including swindling money, might not be a new modus operandi, several Hyderabadis have recently been the target of this on Facebook.
From eminent Tollywood lyricist Chaitanya Prasad to actor and photographer Kommidi Vishwender Reddy, apart from several others from various walks of life, have been victims and have posted warnings asking their friends to be wary about friend requests from profiles that look exactly like the original. “I was alerted by my friends that a fake account has been created on my name. My friends received friend requests and messages from that account and while they initially accepted the friend request thinking it was me, they got suspicious when they received a message asking them for Rs 12,000,” says Chaitanya Prasad, who immediately put up screenshots of the messages and urged his friends and followers to stay alert.
Dr P S M Rao, a city-based economist and YouTuber, also faced the same problem earlier this month. “My daughter called me one morning and told me that there’s a perfect replica of my Facebook account. That very day, an acquaintance also called me and told me he had received a message from that profile, asking for money,” says Dr Rao, adding, “I immediately reported the profile to Facebook and also posted it. It was then that more people started telling me about receiving requests for money from ‘me’.”
A common aspect to these fake profiles is that they go through the original person’s profile and create a perfect replica profile before targeting certain individuals from their profiles, who are likely to trust them. They also add a sense of urgency to it to make it convincing, as Vishwender Reddy says, “My friend’s son received a message from a fake profile of mine and the profile said I was stuck in an airport and urgently needed money to pay excise duty. The boy believed it and was about to send money but luckily, he called his father to verify about it and stopped.”
His daughter’s account was also hacked and when he reacted to it by interacting with the person on phone, the scammer promptly blocked his number and then created another profile on his name before sending abusive messages to all of his friends as if they were sent by him. “I posted requesting all my friends to ignore those messages and not accept requests from anyone they don’t know,” says Vishwender Reddy.
What you can do
- Lock your Facebook profile to ensure no one can copy your photos
- Hide your friends list so that only you can see it
- Accept requests only from people you know and verify with them
- If you receive a new request from an old acquaintance, verify with them
- Do not transfer any money blindly through Google Pay or other UPI systems
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