Here’s how to get to the bottom of it.
So, as a recent single, I am inundated with handsome doctors from overseas who can’t wait to be friends with me. Right? Because that makes sense?
You know these profiles are fake, but sometimes these fakers can be convincing, especially if other friends of yours have accepted them as friends and they show up as “mutual friends.” You need to know how to sort this out. You can refuse all superfluous and even mildly suspicious requests, or if you’re like me, you’re nosy. You want to know who these people really are.
Here’s How You Sort the Real Profiles from the Fake
If you are going to be active on social media, you need to be internet savvy. I’m hoping this information “clicks” in your mind and you remember even a small portion of it — perhaps saving you from adding the wrong “friend” or worse, getting sucked into a private conversation with a mystery person. Social media sites can put you in financial, emotional, and even physical danger if you don’t stay alert and smart about the use of these sites.
Thoroughly Vet Their Profile
First, when that friend’s request comes through on Facebook, open their profile and give it a look. Real people are going to show recent activity, especially if they are on the site enough to be sending out friend requests. There are a few warning signs you can look for:
- No or few friends in common
- They are located far away from you
- You do not have groups, interests, or something in common that may have inspired the friend’s request.
- Everything is private except a few well-chosen pictures.
- There’s no activity on the account from what you can see.
Here’s Facebook’s list of fake profile red flags: Things to watch out for:
- People you don’t know personally asking for money.
- Anyone asking you to pay a fee to apply for a job.
- Un-verified Pages claiming to represent a large organization or public figure.
- People asking you to move your conversation off Facebook to a less public or less secure setting, such as a separate email.
- People asking you to send them money or gift cards to receive a reward.
- Anyone claiming to be a friend or relative in an emergency.
- People who misrepresent where they are located.
- Messages or posts with poor spelling and grammar.
- People or accounts directing you to claim a prize.
Look for Fake Images
The fake profiles often show very formal pictures that look a little too “staged.” The pictures will often be few in number and appear a bit too “perfect” to be real. There are just enough pictures to support the “story.” Doctors often have online profiles, with a headshot and a stethoscope loosely hanging around their neck — these types of pictures fall prey to scammer’s activities.
The friend’s request I received this week was from a “Roland Benjamin” (who looks nothing like his pic according to this search) and I knew right away it was fake. He’s a good-looking doctor, with one friend in common with me, and his profile says:
From the “Info” section in the “About” tab on the Facebook profile:Works at Doctor without Boarder, Went to Lancaster High School (Lancaster, California), Studied at Western University of Health Sciences, Lives in Lancaster, California, From Berlin, Germany, Single.
At first glance this looks pretty normal but ask yourself some real questions here. Why on earth would some doctor be from Germany, live in California, know nothing at all about me and suddenly want to be friends? We have no groups in common and I have not run into him on any other site, that I recall. Also, "Doctor without Boarder" is a misspelling of an actual organization. Also, check out the URL for this Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/sharonda.parker.524 Sharonda Parker? Who is that, I wonder.
You’ll want to do a reverse Google image search. It is easy enough to do. You’ll need a saved copy of an image, or the direct URL for that image. I usually make it simple and save a copy of the image to upload for Google to search the web for this same image on other sites. Go to the image search link and enter the URL or use the camera icon option to upload the image straight from your computer.
I am going to go out on a limb here — Roland Benjamin is NOT the man in this picture, and who knows where that photo originated from. Most of the images that Google found for this picture have to do with men’s suits, which is why the image search put “suit separate” as the search results category, so it is fairly easy to determine, someone took images from the web, likely a men’s suit catalogue, and used them to mask their own identity.
It is also important to note that many of these profiles have ties to illegal websites and human trafficking.
Beware Those Random DMs
If you receive a "hey" or "how are you" from what looks to be a friend on your friend's list, open the profile and check out the URL to see if there areindications it is a duplicated site.
Block them. Don’t send ANY information and NEVER send money.
Don’t Click on Anything Suspicious
- Random videos, photos, and GIFs coming to you by Facebook Messenger. These may say “Hey I saw you on this website!!! Just LOOK AT THIS!!!” With a link. Don’t click. Scammers embed coding in those GIFs and links to try and get into your personal information and accounts, or to steer you toward their sex industry practices. Report them, screenshot the message if you want later proof, and block the user.
- IF you have clicked on anything suspicious, or your account begins sending out messages and you didn’t do it — immediately change your Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.) password, log out, then log back in. Make sure to go to settings and log out of all your devices as well. You’ll need to log back in with your new password when you return to those sites on your devices.
If You’ve Been Had
Tracking down these fake profiles for you to prove economic or punitive damages is possible but it can get quite costly. If you want to pursue legal action, you will want to collect as much information as you possibly can. Dates, times, messages, screenshots, and proof of all the actions you have made. Consult an attorney and possibly a private investigator who specializes in digital crimes.
Otherwise, if you aren’t ready to commit a few years of your life to catching the scammer(s), then cut your losses and consider it a lesson learned.
Report and Block
These are your tools, use them. But you can also be smart, guarded, and keep these scammers from taking advantage of you or your accounts. Stay safe! Social media is a lot more fun for us all when we use it wisely and report the people who don’t.
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