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Scammers have discovered a new trick on Facebook to fleece people out of money
Facebook users should be on the lookout for a new scam – that involves stealing your identity.
Using a process known as "cloning", cybercriminals copy your name and profile pictures in order to set-up a brand-new – but from the outside, identical – Facebook account.
To make their cloned account appear as real as possible, scammers will even replicate your personal information and past status updates.
When the fake account is finished, the online criminals impersonate you and send friend requests to your friends and family.
The scam works because your nearest and dearest assume the Facebook account is genuine, and trust they are talking to you.
Facebook users should be aware of the new scam being used to trick people out of money online
A worrying number of users have reported false Facebook accounts asking for money after building up a level of trust and even engaging in conversations while pretending to be the true account holder.
While cloning is more sophisticated than some traditional online scams, the techniques used by these online scammers to fleece friends and family out of money can be a little rudimentary.
Some users have reported incidents of these cloned accounts claiming to have received a $50 million grant from the US government and they want to share the news on how others can receive the same.
One of the people who’s account has been cloned for such uses is Yvonne Allen.
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She told American media: “I get upset because this is about the third time this has happened.
“I didn’t receive anything. If they want to send me $50 million, I’ll take it."
“Maybe they’re trying to get you to send them money, however other scammers are trying to do something a little more nefarious and that’s steal your identity,” Danielle Hatfield, owner of web hosting service Experience Farm warned.
“When they finally get around to the scam of maybe asking for money, your friends and family will fall for it.”
It’s advised that Facebook users who believe they’re being targeted by what they suspect is a false account should simply search the social network to see if they’re already friends with the person they’re getting additional friend requests from.
Another way to protect yourself from Facebook cloning is to ensure your privacy settings are cranked up to 10 and only your approved friends can see your account.