There is a proliferation of members running rampant on popular social networking sites. Facebook took the number one spot away from MySpace in January of 2009. Twitter rose meteorically from number twenty-two to number three. You can bet money on the fact that social networking scams are growing right along with the opportunities offered by these additional numbers. These scams are one of the dangers of social networking sites.
These sites are happy hunting grounds for the scammers. What goes on in the mind of the person behind social networking scams? Hypothetically, she is intelligent, aware of the gullibility of many and has no scruples to prevent her from taking advantage of their naiveté to steal their money or harass and ridicule them for her own entertainment.
Rather than blatantly rushing in and immediately trying to coerce them into sending money, she sets a plan into motion that requires putting together a jigsaw puzzle of the targeted victim’s life. Each piece of the puzzle is a piece of what the individual is all about and a key piece of social networking scams. One really helpful piece is their date of birth, another is a home address and place of employment. She stalks the vulnerable over time until she has scooped up enough pieces to complete a puzzle that displays a collage of his finances, his daily schedule, friends, etc.
The time comes when she knows enough to assume the identity. To achieve that level of familiarity, she gathers up details such as:
- Date of birth
- Place of employment
- Phone number
- Daily schedule
- Favorite pet
- Mother’s maiden name
- Place of birth
She’s done the pre-planning and detective work required to perpetrate social networking scams. She obtains this information rather easily. She talks to you and your friends online, surreptitiously steering the conversation in a direction that enables her to find out everything she needs to know to effectively impersonate you.
Like these examples:
- Using the screen name Janet, she tells you all about her own surprise birthday party.
- Using the screen name John, he (she) talks at length about the German Festival he went to.
- Posing as Doreen she describes her workday (she chooses a career similar to yours).
- After finding out the names of your friends, she poses as one of them verifying your address to send you a card.
- Calling herself Carol (another friend of yours), she asks if your phone number has changed and gets you to repeat the number so she can be sure.
- Talks to you about cars and how long it takes her to get to work in the morning traffic. This encourages you to talk about your own commute time.
- Loves to chat on about all her pets, from first to current ones.
- In yet another phony impersonation, talks about ethnicity and her last name and mother’s maiden name is woven in to the discussion. Most often you will respond in kind.
- As Jana, she mentions that she was born in the city she grew up in.
Now, if one online friend asks you all these questions, it makes you wonder why they’re grilling you. But when you share only one fact with each online friend, the warning bells of suspicion do not ring out.
The perpetrator’s social networking scams are tailored to suit you specifically. Divulging these facts one by one to various chat friends seems harmless and actually would be under ordinary circumstances. You never realize how much personal information you revealed.
The scammer can now use your personal identity to:
- Apply for a credit card in your name.
- Rent a luxury vehicle with that credit card.
- Drive off into the sunset never to be apprehended and punished for the crime.