Facebook is having a great five year run as one of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet. Since its inception in February of 2004, it has grown to a multi-billion dollar company and claims over 200 million users around the world. It passed MySpace in total number of visits according to a survey done in January of 2009.
Mark Zuckerberg started out with the modest goal of keeping friends and family members informed about everything going on in his life as a student at Harvard. He got the Facebook social network rolling and it’s still growing! Millions of honest users are visiting it daily and it’s being invaded by Facebook impostors at an alarming rate.
One of them will take on the identity of a member. Then they try to scam the targeted victim in some way. Everyone is open to being impersonated, from political figures to movie stars to the girl next door who flirted with another girl’s boyfriend (whether or not he flirted back is the big question), but I digress.
Here’s the scoop. Brenda is jealous and protective of her boyfriend Jim. Last Friday someone spotted Jim talking to her best friend (let’s call her Jennifer). Brenda didn’t want to openly confront Jennifer even though she was irate about the rumor. She vented her anger on Facebook where she created a fake account in which she pretended to be Jennifer. In her false persona, she posted some nasty comments about Jim.
As a result, Jim lashed out at Jennifer and now both he and Brenda have abruptly dropped Jennifer as a friend. Jennifer was clueless throughout the entire drama. Neither of them stopped to think it could have been a false rumor or one of many Facebook impostors. Brenda never admitted the truth and it remains a mystery to this day.
Facebook impostors have assumed the identity of Hollywood stars and other celebrities. Some of them do it just for a laugh. Others do it maliciously to cause serious harm. The more practical impersonators do it to extract money from the person they pretend to be or that person’s friends.
One of the more sinister plots was put into motion after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the first female Prime Minister in the Islamic world. Her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, then only 19 years of age, was named chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party shortly after her death. Someone opened an account on Facebook using his identity. What that Facebook impostor hoped to accomplish was never clarified. However, the phony Zardari site was convincing enough to fool seasoned journalists who used the information posted on it without taking the time to verify whether or not it was true.
Bryan Rutberg’s fiasco started on February 02, 2009 in Seattle, Washington, when one of the Facebook impostors took complete control of his site by hacking in and changing both the password and the contact email address. This left Bryan with no way to log in to his own account.
This devious individual then sent out an urgent email while posing as Bryan. The cry for help read something like, Urgent, Bryan needs your help! It went on to claim he had been robbed in the UK and needed enough money to fly home to the US. This plea went out to everyone on his friends list.
The hacker was in control and Bryan was locked out. He had no way to notify the powers that be at Facebook about the dilemma this left him in. There was no way to get an immediate response.
One of Bryan’s friends was alarmed enough to wire $1,200 via Western Union to the impersonator who collected the money in London, England, appearing under the guise of Bryan Rutberg. Meanwhile in the US, the real Bryan was trying to notify as many friends as possible that it was a hoax.