MADISON, Wis. - If you're an avid Facebook user, you may have seen or heard of recent messages like this one:
"Heads-up! Almost every account is being cloned. Your picture and your name are used to create a new face book account (they don't need your password to do this this). They want your friends to add them to their Facebook account. Your friends will think that it's you and accept your request. From that point on they can write what they want under your name. I have NO plans to open a new account. Please DO NOT accept a 2nd friend request from "me". please forward to all your contacts."
This is the newest Facebook scam that's tricked many people into thinking their friends' accounts have been duplicated and has tricked others into sharing the message, believing a massive cloning effort is underway.
"Always question everything," said Madison College marketing professor Steve Noll.
Noll said the best thing to do if your Facebook friends send you the message, is to tell them they just played into the scam.
"If they're sending it to you, they're probably sending it to 50 other people," Noll said. "Always think before you click."
Noll said there's a tactical method being used in which scammers timed this perfectly with several things; the first is a Facebook data breach that happened several weeks ago.
"About 50 million people within the last few weeks logged into Facebook where they normally log in, on a phone, a computer, a tablet, only to find they had to re-log in," Noll said. "Scammers are taking that idea and then launching this current scam and hoping people think the two are connected."
The second involves the recent uproar about the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nominee hearing, which got people on both sides emotional.
"Tempers are flaring, emotions are flaring. That's the perfect time to scam people," he said.
The third factor is the upcoming elections.
"I think stuff like this is only going to increase between now and the election because emotions are going to increase between now and the elections," Noll said.
While profile cloning is a real problem at times, Noll said this is not one of them. He believes this is what is called a sucker scam, where scammers are using this to find out who is gullible enough to fall for real scams in the future.
"The people who are circulating this can kind of go, 'Oh, who did this?' and it kind of sets you up as a gullible person for potential future contact for an actual scam," Noll said.
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