We've all gotten those random friendship requests on Facebook. They seem to be harmless, you look at the profile and wonder if this might be the beginning of something good, a new friendship, a new partnership, maybe a little bit of both.
But how do you know the person behind that profile is real? If you don't have any connections with mutual friends, or if you don't recognize the person from a previous place of employment, education or even a recent event, chances are the profile trying to befriend you is a scammer.
If you're not very active on Facebook or social media then this may not be obvious, but let me tell you that there are tons of people out there looking to scam you. Maybe they want your money, or your connections or they are simply using you as a pawn to a larger more nefarious goal. Stay alert, and be cautious when new people approach you and don't seem to have a clear purpose or intention.
Don't get me wrong, everybody is looking for something. Most people just like to add you as a friend to truly connect with you. But some of them want to use you, some want to abuse you. I'm here to help you spot the ones that want to abuse you, to take advantage of your good nature.
Some tell tale signs they are a fake account
- The user tries to make chit-chat conversation, often repeats it all over every time they make contact. There is no purpose to the conversation.
- The user has only a small amount of personal pictures or none at all. They may have a profile photo, but since they aren't real, they don't have other photos with friends, family, etc.
- They have very few posts. They just put a few things up to appear legitimate.
- They claim to work for high-visibility trustworthy school or work at a very prominent company or institution, i.e. Harvard, Yale, Oxford, or they work at a governmental institution. It's almost impossible to verify this unless you run an employment background check.
This is a video I made to show you how to spot a scammer on Facebook. It works about 75% to 80% of the time based on my personal experience.
Spotting fake profiles on Facebook can be pretty easy and with time, you'll be able to guess which ones are real and which ones are fake even without doing the steps I outlined in the video. It just takes practice. The method I describe just confirms your suspicions, and it takes just a couple minutes to complete and it's totally free, just use the Google image search.
A tip I didn't mention in the video if the image you search for doesn't turn up any results, you may also want to "reverse" it. You can do this with almost any photo editing software, just flip the image horizontally. Sometimes scammers will do this to throw off the image search in Google.
You should also know that it's perfectly possible for a scammer to have a legitimate profile. These type of scammers are a totally different kind and this video will probably not help you with that. When I said that this works 75 to 80 percent of the time, that's because sometimes scammers don't use photos from other people so the image search will not work in those cases.