The most common type of fake Facebook account is a pawned off or hacked account. Many malicious individuals buy old accounts to use for impersonation, and there is a surprisingly thriving black market for them.
A good clue to an account’s authenticity is the date of its first publicly visible posts. Look back at who Liked the earliest posts and see if their names jibe with the current nature of the account.how to track someone on facebook
No personal photos
A fake Facebook account is a common tool for scammers and other bad actors who want to steal your identity, harm you or tarnish your brand’s reputation. Thankfully, there are ways to spot these accounts quickly and avoid them or report them for review.
If the person who sent you a friend request does not have any personal photos on their account, this is often a red flag. This can be an indicator that the person is a cloned profile and that the photo of them is stolen or from another source. Alternatively, it could be that they don’t want to share any personal information on their account at all, so they’re hiding all of their content behind a profile picture.
While this isn’t a foolproof indicator that an account is fake, it can be a good first step. Most people will fill in their Timeline with their life events, share links and other people’s status updates, so having an empty or sparse timeline can be a giveaway that something is up.
Scammers are lazy by nature, so they may not bother sharing real content or creating a lot of posts on their accounts. However, they will often upload a few stolen pictures and start adding friends at a quick pace. These are all early warning signs that the account isn’t authentic.
If you have mutual friends with the person who sent you a friend request, this is another way to verify their authenticity. Ask them how they know this person and make sure the connection is valid before accepting the request.
Typically, fake Facebook accounts are created with the intention of deceiving someone in particular. These can take the form of a profile picture that seems unrecognizable or a story that’s hard to believe. These profiles are often attempting to scam someone out of money or personal information and they can also be used for shady marketing purposes.
In the past, it was difficult to find out who created a fake account as it wasn’t easy to trace their IP address. However, now there are new tools available that can help police departments and companies to catch fake Facebook users. One of these is a website called Wall Machine, which allows anyone to create a fake Facebook wall post without the need for any photo editing software. This can include text status updates, relationships and photos that can be added to an existing account.
Another way to spot a fake Facebook profile is to check the ‘About’ section of their page. Real people usually fill out this section with details of their accomplishments, education and work experience. If the person’s About section is empty, it might be a sign that they are trying to hide their identity.
Finally, it is a good idea to look for the person’s name in the top left corner of their page. If their name is a random collection of letters and numbers, it’s likely that they are a bot. It’s also worth checking their feed for any changes. For example, if you notice that their feed has suddenly changed to show posts from a different year, this is another strong indication of a fake account. Also, it is a big red flag if the person has few or no mutual friends.
Biographical information is fanciful
It’s not a strong indicator on its own, but sometimes fake accounts have biographical details that seem at odds with the rest of the account. For example, a fake Trump supporter may list that they ‘Works at CNN’ but also say that they graduated from Harvard University in 2015. Also, look at the names of those who Liked the account’s earliest posts; do they jibe with the overall nature of the persona?
Another clue is when the profile photo has been stolen from elsewhere online. A simple trick is to drag the suspected profile photo into a Google Image Search and see if it shows up anywhere else on the internet. It can also be a red flag to look at the date the account first uploaded content and see if other accounts with similar profile photos did so around the same time.
Oftentimes, fake accounts will upload low-quality websites or other scammy sites to Facebook groups. This is a short-term strategy to get people to follow them and click their website links. This is not a foolproof indicator, since lots of real people share these kinds of links, but it’s one to keep an eye out for.
If you notice any of these indicators, it’s important to report the account or page immediately so that Facebook can take action. If you are unsure about whether an account or page is fake, it’s a good idea to contact a professional cyber investigator. They can help you track down the perpetrators and prevent their actions from impacting your business or personal life. For more tips on spotting a fake Facebook account, check out our blog post on the topic.
No friend requests
The most common reason people receive a friend request from someone they don’t know is that the account has been cloned by scammers. This means they saved your profile image and friend list (if you make it public) and then sent out a blitz of requests to everyone on your list. This is a huge risk because they can monitor your posts and, if your list of friends is public, see your phone number. This also allows them to phish your friends by sending them links to malicious websites that may install malware or steal your passwords.
To avoid this, check out a person’s profile before accepting a friend request. Look at the images used and see if there are any that don’t match. You can also view the timeline and notice if the account was created recently. Legitimate users often have content going back several years, so a short timeline is a big red flag.
Another thing to watch out for is an extremely low or high number of friends and connections. Fake accounts often only have a small group of friends and connections, usually all of the same sex. This is a sign that they have put little effort into their fake profile and are hoping to get lucky with their “friends”.
If you think someone on Facebook might be a phony, don’t just ignore them; report them. This is one of the main ways to keep Facebook from allowing its users to fall prey to data harvesters and criminals who masquerade as their friends. The more you can prevent these phonies from getting into your news feed, the safer and more enjoyable a time you’ll have on the social network.
If the account owner hasn’t posted anything to their Facebook profile, there may be a reason. Some fake accounts are created specifically to make people believe they are a real person. Other people may have their Facebook account used to create a fake persona for professional reasons, like impersonation or piracy. In either case, the lack of posts can be a big red flag.
The last thing a person who is running a fake Facebook account wants is to be caught. In some cases, people who run fake social media accounts will post vitriolic and negative comments to online discussions in order to troll others and create suspicion and distrust. Look for patterns in the type of content that is shared by an account and also in the frequency with which it is shared.
Another way to check if an account is fake is to look at the earliest posts and see who has liked them. For example, if the account was made to look like an American but all of the accounts that have Liked it are Middle-Eastern then that could be a clue.
It is also important to look at the timeline of the account to see if it is active and recent. The more activity on a Facebook account, the more likely it is to be authentic.
Fake Facebook accounts are a serious problem, and they can be very hard to detect. However, if you are diligent in your search, you may be able to uncover a fake account before it causes any damage. For additional help, you can use tools like Red Points to identify fake Facebook pages and accounts that are selling counterfeit products or promoting piracy.