In my latest video I take a deep dive into the troubling world of Facebook’s rampant fraud, fake accounts and scams. Most of what I investigated here are based on my own experiences and observations.
What prompted this investigation was an incident involving a friend whose car was stolen. After she posted about it on Facebook, her post was swarmed by scammers, a clear indication of how these predators prey on vulnerable individuals. Here’s what a few of the comments looked like:
This incident prompted me to conduct an experiment: I created a “honeypot” post on my Facebook page, pretending to seek help for a hacked account. The response was overwhelming and immediate, with over two dozen scammers flocking to offer ‘help,’ all from fake accounts. If these scammers are contacted they almost will certainly demand money from their victims and then disappear.
This experiment highlighted two critical issues with Facebook: the lack of adequate support for users with account problems and the platform’s failure to enforce its own rules against fraudulent activities.
When I reported a scam comment from a “Daniel Sarvela” to Facebook they did nothing about it, even after an appeal. This inaction allows fake accounts to proliferate, scamming more people without consequence.
And that “Daniel Sarvela” I reported? It turns out the fake account was made from images posted by an unsuspecting father and community volunteer from Australia. Facebook’s systems could very easily detect that photos from the victim were being stolen for a fake account yet they do nothing about it. Meanwhile this man’s likeness is being used to steal from vulnerable Facebook users.
But that’s not all.. In checking my recent friend requests, 7 of the 8 top requests on my profile are all cloned accounts of friends of mine. One of them cloned my uncle’s account and tricked my wife into accepting his friend request. The scammer then began a chat with her where he was about to ask for money before she got wise to the scheme.
The problem extends beyond simple scams. I discussed the disturbing trend of pig butchering schemes where lonely individuals lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to fake crypto investment schemes and the human trafficking linked to these scams.
With Facebook apparently doing nothing to combat these scams, I believe education and awareness are key. Resources like the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network and the podcast “The Perfect Scam” are invaluable for understanding and avoiding scams. The YouTube channel “Catfished” by SocialCatfish.com is another excellent resource, particularly for understanding romance scams.
Despite being the largest social media network with the largest number of vulnerable users, Facebook’s efforts to address these problems is completely insufficient. This situation underscores the importance of staying vigilant and informed to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones in the digital world.