Facebook Profile Clone Scams Hit the Valley - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Facebook Profile Clone Scams Hit the Valley

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New cases of stolen identity are now popping up on social media where scammers are claiming to be your friends and digging into your pockets.

Will Joe Heilman, the real Joe Heilman, please stand up? According to Facebook, there are two of him.

"I was sleeping and woke up that morning to my alarm clock and a bunch of friends' messages on my phone saying, 'are you instant messaging me on Facebook? Are you in trouble? Do you need money?'" Joe explained. Suspicious of what was going on, because he was neither in need of money nor messaging his friends, Joe did a quick search of his name. Two identical profiles came up, with the same name, pictures and even some recent activity.

"The account looks just like mine, so it's not hacking my account, but it's making a duplicate," he said.

A woman from Western Minnesota contacted us after finding out the person she had been chatting with was a total stranger. She was contacted by who she thought was her pastor's wife, explaining how she could make her more money for free.

"I'm usually more skeptic than that, but I've just been going through so much," she explains as she describes having lost her husband and taken her grandchildren into her care over the last year. Money was something she could use; and her pastor's wife was someone she could trust.

"They stole her identity and told me this web site to go to, and how they received $80,000," she said. "you don't know how much grief, frustration and stress you have put me through."

The woman has paid out $42,000 to an organization called United Nations Commission, to find out it may never come back.

Meanwhile, Joe's identity did come back, but the threat still lingers.

"There are however many hundreds of millions of users on Facebook, putting their entire lives out there," he said after having changed all his personal account settings to private.

Joe suggests the best way to avoid a profile duplication is to change all of your account settings so only friends can view your information.

If you have been targeted for a scam, report it to the FBI.


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