The online threat continues to grow and you should be aware of this
You just received a friend request on Facebook from someone you don’t know. The most likely thing you do is accept the friend request. The friend request was from a pretty woman who you think is harmless.
This could be an online scammer using a fake profile trying to connect with you so they could ruin your life. These days it is very easy for someone to create a fake profile and then scam you. I have figured out a few clues that I will share with you that you need to know.
In my former life, I was kind of like Bond, James Bond. You know 007. All the secret missions, fast cars, high-speed devices, and hooking up with sexy women.
I went through a lot of specialized training and classes. I worked in buildings with no windows.
If that part were true, let me tell you only half of it was. I did get information on secret missions but was never given a fast car, high-speed devices, or hook up with sexy women. Not counting my wife that is.
Because of my background, I was given information on how to protect my company and personnel. I had to brief them as they traveled in friendly and hostile environments. Doing the research and finding out the location and equipment the bad guys possessed was one of my missions.
I no longer carry out secret missions, but the threat is still there. With the rise of the internet, this is another area that seems to catch anyone when you let your guard down. In fact, just the other day I had to let two other Medium members that I am connected with one Facebook know about a fake profile.
Background of the story and steps to identify the scammer
I received a friend request the other day. The person was from Richard Kathleen. The profile for Richard Kathleen was a white female probably in her mid-20s. This was the real name of the person. I tried to find the person to show an image but could no longer find them online.
Let me cover some more details about the friend request. These are some points you need to know when someone sends you a friend request to determine if the friend request was a fake profile.
Step 1. Person’s name. There is nothing with the name, Richard Kathleen, except the person was a female. At first, I was thinking maybe the profile was the husband and he had an image of his wife as his profile picture. A few people do that sometimes.
Step 2. Mutual friends. Since I did not know this person, I checked to see who were mutual friends I was connected with. I saw the person was connected to two other Medium writers that I was friends with on Facebook. Then I thought maybe this person was a Medium writer. I have been receiving a lot of friend requests on Facebook from other Medium writers.
Step 3. Profile page. At this point, I was still cautious. The next step I took was to look at their profile page. The person had recently changed their profile image and their header only a day or two before. This is a little suspicious but it could be completely normal. Who doesn’t change their profile picture from time to time?
Step 4. Pictures on page. I tried to see other images on the page but I could not see any at all. Sometimes people limit the images on their page with people they are not connected with. So I had two more things to check.
Step 5. About section. I clicked on the person’s about section to see where they may have lived, worked, and who some of their other friends were. Richard Kathleen lived in San Antonio, Texas and there wasn’t much else except for her list of friends.
Step 6. Their friends. I scrolled through and looked at her friends. It appeared most of her friends were black. As I mentioned earlier, Richard Kathleen had an image of a white female.
There could be nothing wrong with a white female with a lot of black friends. Maybe Richard Kathleen liked to have friends who were black.
Steps 7 and 8. The next two indicators really gave the fake profile away. Most of the names of Richard Kathleen’s friends were African names. You have to ask yourself, why would Richard Kathleen from San Antonio have a lot of black friends with African names?
When you look at a profile picture of people from Africa, they are a little similar. It’s hard to explain but you can tell if someone was from America by the way they dress. Profile pictures of people from Africa looked different. Sometimes the picture may have their neighborhood or home in the background.
Things an online scammer can do to hurt you
At this point, I canceled the friend request. I knew this person was a scammer who set up a fake profile. At this point, I did not need to connect with a person who had a fake image and possibly a fake name.
You don’t need to worry so much about where the online scammer is from. An online scammer can hurt you financially and emotionally. Online scammers may pose a serious threat and they can ruin your life.
- Online scammers may request that you send them money. Sometimes, they will give you a sob story on why they need the money.
- Online scammers may ask you to send them a photo or video of yourself. Sometimes, they will send you a nude image of themself or someone else.
- Online scammers could send a virus affecting your computer or phone.
These are other actions of scammers and these are only growing. You are online more than you were a decade ago when the internet was just starting to take off. Instead of only worrying about threats from people who want to physically rob or assault you, you now have to worry about the online threat.
- In the first half of 2019, data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records
- 71% of breaches were financially motivated and 25% were motivated by espionage
- 52% of breaches featured hacking, 32–33% included phishing or social engineering, and 28% involved malware
- Hackers attack every 39 seconds, an average of 2,244 times a day
- 500 million Marriott-Starwood consumers from 2014, had their information compromised in the data breach made public in 2018
- In 2016, Uber reported that hackers stole the information of over 57 million riders and drivers
- In 2016, 3 billion Yahoo accounts were hacked in one of the biggest breaches of all time
These were just some of the results of data breaches and hacks. Criminals are going online and this is why you need to think twice before you accept a friend request from a complete stranger.