Dan has written extensively on this blog, his PracticePro blog, and on Slaw.ca about the cheque fraud that is claiming victims across the legal profession in the U.S. and Canada. That fraudulent activity has yet to abate, and we are now faced with another type of fraud: Fake and stolen Facebook account fraud. Similar to the deceptive practices Dan has warned about, these fraudsters are phishing to steal Facebook accounts, and then seek to defraud the friends of the real Facebook account owner. According to this article in the New York Times, millions of accounts are bundled and sold to criminals who then post fake messages seeking money from Facebook friends. For example, one such fake message (obstensibly from the account owner) asking friends for money to help her get home from Europe where she was stuck without funds to return home. Furthermore, access to Facebook accounts can provide personal information that can help these criminals answer account security questions such as “What is your mother’s maiden name?” Scary stuff, but just the tip of the iceberg.
It seems that with almost any technology, the more popular it becomes, the more security concerns pop-up. With over 400 million users, if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. And millions of those people are now closely interconnected. No wonder the world’s criminals are out in full force.
So as with any other technology, beware. Stay up-to-date. Learn and apply security settings. Take care who you friend. Apply the same common sense to requests via Facebook as you would by mail, telephone or e-mail: Make sure you really know who is contacting you.
It’s a shrinking world out there, but the neighborhood is still rough!