Voice Platform and Support Network for Families of Missing and Victims of Crime
Facebook is an awesome tool and I think we'd all agree a great resource for missing persons and causes in need of justice awareness.
However, that said - as I'm sure many of us sadly also personally know, Facebook is at times also a source of deception and scams.
So what do we do? I guess just like with everything in life: use our best common sense and wisely look into our gut instincts.
With that said - please read and share out the below ....
Every form of communication, from snail-mail to e-mail, chat and others, is subject to fraud and scams. But social networks like Facebook are subject to new, more dangerous opportunities for fraud.
With e-mail and IM spam and Internet scams, the whole social-engineering game is to get you to trust a stranger. But social networks are different. The goal there is to get you to believe the fraudster is a friend whom you already trust.
If you're on Facebook, you've no doubt got a bunch of friends. And if you're like most Facebook users, you're certain those friends are exactly who they say they are. And you might be right. Or you could be wrong. They could be scammers posing as your friends.
How hard is that, exactly? It turns out to be hideously easy to do.
If this kind of false-identity fraud hasn't been attempted against you in the past, I can assure you it will be in the future. Scammers are quickly realizing that posing as another person is a foolproof way to get around the age-old trust issue that can ruin a good con.
How to steal friends and influence people
I'm going to tell you exactly how someone can trick you into thinking they're your friend. Now, before you send me hate mail for revealing this deep, dark secret, let me assure you that the scammers, crooks, predators, stalkers and identity thieves are already aware of this trick. It works only because the public is not aware of it. If you're scamming someone, here's what you'd do:
Step 1: Request to be "friends" with a dozen strangers on MySpace . Let's say half of them accept. Collect a list of all their friends.
Step 2: Go to Facebook and search for those six people. Let's say you find four of them also on Facebook. Request to be their friends on Facebook. All accept because you're already an established friend.
Step 3: Now compare the MySpace friends against the Facebook friends. Generate a list of people that are on MySpace but are not on Facebook. Grab the photos and profile data on those people from MySpace and use it to create false but convincing profiles on Facebook. Send "friend" requests to your victims on Facebook.
As a bonus, others who are friends of both your victims and your fake self will contact you to be friends and, of course, you'll accept. In fact, Facebook itself will suggest you as a friend to those people.
(Think about the trust factor here. For these secondary victims, they not only feel they know you, but actually request "friend" status. They sought you out.)
Step 4: Now, you're in business. You can ask things of these people that only friends dare ask.
"Let's meet for drinks -- bring your new car!"
"I'm in Nigeria on vacation, got robbed and need $500 to get home!"
"I see you'll be away for the holidays, but I want to send you a Christmas card anyway. What's your home address again?"
Facebook represents a perfect storm of fraud factors. The whole "friend" system creates trust, but the reality of social networks prevents verification that people are who they say they are.
How to meet new people and rob them blind
While some Facebook fraud involves strangers posing as existing "friends," other types involve making new "friends."
I'm being "scammed" right now by someone on Facebook (I won't give you names or other details because, truth be told, I'm only 95% sure it's a scam). Here's how it's going so far.
Some pretty young woman in Indonesia sent me a friend request two weeks ago. I've been researching Facebook scams for this article, so I assumed it was a setup, played along and added her as a friend. Checking her profile, I found exactly what I expected to find: All her friends were male and most closer to my age than hers; her profile was brand-new; photos showed her only with a bunch of other women. (After a fellow male dupe posted on her wall that it was strange she had only male friends, suddenly a couple of female friends emerged -- probably from other fraudulent profiles set up by the scammer.) Every few days, I get a wall post or a chat session.
This profile was almost certainly set up by someone out to steal something, and who has probably set up dozens of such scam profiles all over Facebook. He's (statistically speaking, it's most likely a "he") using flattery to make friends and generate interest, and innocuous chit-chat to establish trust, which will be cashed in later when the real scam hits. The "girl" will eventually need to borrow money or something like that. Or it could just be a way to establish and maintain a "friend" connection so the scammer can target my friends. Who knows? I'm not planning to find out. I've now reported my new "friend" to Facebook, and will unfriend "her" as soon as I submit this column.
While pretty women can be dangled in front of thirtysomething and fortysomething men in order to separate them from their money, Dateline NBC 's Chris Hansen can tell you that men target girls for crimes far worse. A growing number of police investigations are targeting men with fake Facebook profiles and fake photos, which always show the perp to be closer to the age of the victim. They strike up "friendships" with underage girls. One 32-year-old Canadian man is currently being investigated for targeting 146 girls (most between the ages of 11 and 15), and trying to get them to agree to an in-person meeting.
Similar to this is stalkers of all stripes who use fake profiles to keep tabs on their victims. There's even a tongue-in-cheek "Stalkers" application on Facebook.
How to wreck Facebook
One reason people enjoy Facebook is that e-mail has become polluted with spam, and it's more pleasant to converse without unsolicited garbage. That's why purveyors of unsolicited garbage find Facebook so appealing as well.
This week, Facebook won an $873 million judgment (filed under the CAN-SPAM Act) against a spammer. Hooray for Facebook! But this high-profile legal victory points to the sudden attention being paid to Facebook by spammers large and small. For every big fish caught, a thousand little fish get away. Of course, the spam on Facebook comes in the form of "groups" and "gifts" and "applications," as well as wall posts and other such communication.
Facebook is also becoming a focus point for hate speech. After a South Park episode where a character claims all redheads are evil, some Canadian teenager created a group on Facebook called "National Kick a Ginger Day." Which led, of course, to actual kids getting kicked at school. This passes for a hate crime in Canada.
In Italy, someone or some group posted a series of "neo-Nazi" Facebook pages that reportedly called for violence against gypsies.
All of these malicious activities, from fake friends to spam to hate speech, are aggressively dealt with by Facebook once people complain. But the Internet is always Darwinian. As Facebook's defenses evolve, the spammers will find a way to deceive. And deception is oh so easy on Facebook.
Eventually, I predict that fraud will become so widespread that signing up for Facebook will require a verified cell phone number. But in the meantime, difficult-to-detect fraud is exploding on Facebook, and you would be well-advised to verify every friend.
Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. He blogs about the technology needs, desires and successes of mobile warriors in his Computerworld blog, The World Is My Office . Contact Mike at email@example.com , follow him on Twitter or his blog, The Raw Feed .
Posted on Peace4 the Missing
Peace4's Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peace4-the-Missing/114101641947
Oh my gosh how scary. Why would an org ever need your SS? That is so predatory. I am so sorry this happened to you!
I am always super uber careful about who I "friend" on facebook. The one time I blindly accepted a friend request, it turned out to be a guy that changed his name and was in fact the guy who snuck into my room when I was a teenager and put a rifle to my face. When I realized who it was I freaked out and he told me that I was overreacting. That he was only playing around back then and the gun was empty. But it was not funny to me. Ever since then, I seek out my friends and I rarely accept friend requests. Its just too scary how easy this is. Thank you for posting this!
The Internet is good, but also a scary world and it is getting worse. This includes the dangers of all social media such as Facebook and many other "supposedly good" friendly connection we make.
Having worked for the RCMP Victim Services for 17 years has opened my eyes to all sorts of hurt and pain in our community. But now our community connections practically spread all over the world.
It was not so long ago I communicated with a Mom, here in Canada whose precious daughter committed suicide. She was attending University, first time away from home, she got depressed and turned to the Internet for her help. She connected with what she thought was a nice person through Social Media, I cant remember if it was Facebook or not. It brightened her day for a while, then this Man who pretended to be a women who lived in Minnesota helped her commit suicide. Now you may say how on earth can he do that from such a distance. The fact that she suffered big stress he was able to convince her that this was the best route for her, to take her own life. Her Mom has allowed me to share her story.
Justice for Brampton teen’s family 3 years after suicide
An ex-nurse who posed as a woman in an Internet chat room and encouraged 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Brampton to kill herself was found guilty Tuesday of aiding her suicide.
William Melchert-Dinkel, 48, relentlessly pushed the depressed and vulnerable young woman and a man from England to end their lives, a Minnesota judge ruled.
The young woman was studying at Carleton University in Ottawa when she jumped into a frozen river and drowned in 2008. Her grieving family has been waiting for justice without much hope.
“Honestly, until today — until maybe three hours ago — I thought he was going to get away with it,” Mohamed Kajouji said Tuesday evening.
The father burst into tears as he spoke of the pain he lives with daily, surrounded by memories: the photos of his smiling daughter still sitting on top of the television, her bedroom as she left it, the neighbour who looks like her. Last Wednesday marked three years since he lost Nadia.
Kajouji said he takes comfort knowing that justice will be served and hopes the judge comes down hard in sentencing.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s an animal. I don’t know how he can live with himself.”
Melchert-Dinkel of Minnesota was charged in April with aiding suicide under a rarely used state law that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $30,000 (U.S.).
He declined a jury trial and left his fate to a judge, who issued his verdict Tuesday. Sentencing is scheduled for May 4.
Prosecutors said Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and hanging. He sought out potential victims on the Internet, posing as a female nurse and feigning compassion for people he met in suicide chat rooms. Then he offered them step-by-step instructions on how to kill themselves.
Melchert-Dinkel tried to persuade Kajouji to hang herself in front of a webcam.
“Most important is the placement of the noose on the neck,” he wrote in one web chat, posing as a woman and using the screen name “cami.”
“Knot behind the left ear and rope across the carotid is very important for instant unconsciousness and death.”
He was also found guilty of encouraging the suicide of Mark Drybough, who hanged himself in 2005 at his home in Coventry, England.
Prosecutors said Melchert-Dinkel acknowledged participating in online chats about suicide with as many as 20 people and entering into fake suicide pacts with about 10 of them, five of whom he believed killed themselves.
Melchert-Dinkel told police he did it for the “thrill of the chase,” said Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster.
Defence attorney Terry Watkins argued the victims were predisposed to committing suicide and his client didn’t sway them by making statements online.
Judge Thomas Neuville said that argument was irrelevant.
The investigation into Melchert-Dinkel’s activity began in March 2008 when an anti-suicide activist in Britain contacted Minnesota authorities to report an online predator using deception to manipulate people to commit suicide.
Melchert-Dinkel has been allowed to remain free under certain conditions. Among them, he is not allowed to use the Internet without approval.
Nadia was cheerful young woman who loved her family, playing the guitar and ice skating.
She was a bright student who wanted to be a lawyer, but she grew depressed when she moved away from home. The increased academic pressure and a breakup added to her strain. She had begun seeing a campus counsellor and taking antidepressants.
An online posting made days before her death revealed the extent of her depression.
“I have not attempted suicide in the past because I am terrified of failing — the attention it would garner,” she wrote.
“I just want a quick out.”
After his sister’s death, Marc Kajouji became involved with the suicide prevention organization Your Life Counts. He hopes Nadia’s story will make people more aware of the tragedy of suicide and perhaps save lives.
“Talk to your friends, talk to your family, as hard as it is,” Kajouji tells people who find themselves experiencing the same feelings as his sister. “It’s important to reach out for help and not just try to battle this on your own because it is very tough.”
I am sorry, but I just have to share more on this subject of "Trust, Friends, Scams and Facebook"
Maybe Sara, you should add INTERNET scams in general.
Last night I cried because of a young girl involved in our "Just Me and The Kids" - JMK.
A 12 week program for single parents and their kids at our church (it is an awesome program, for your Church http://www.singleparentfamilyresources.org/Canada/program.php).
This young 16 year old tried to commit suicide.
Yes she too spent a lot of time on the Internet.
Dealing with a lot of physical pain I cried out to God, to take my pain away so I could go enjoy and teach this week's lesson at JMK. The following prayer/poem I wrote was before I left home, mostly dealing with myself to be ready. Then the evening got worse, as it was not about me, but a Mom and her young daughter.
Take the pain Father
It's no longer about me dear Lord
Today was a hectic day Lord
Preparing for JMK
Now I am finished and ready
But please take my pain away
It's too much
I can no longer bare it
I give it to you Jesus please hold me
You can do it Father
Please take my pain
I fully belong to you
Must trust in you for all of it
I know it's NOT MY WORKS
OR WHAT I DO
That saves me
But It's you
All of it, it's you
But please now take my pain
That I can do as you want
Forgive me when I stray
In thought mind and heart
I don't always give it all to you Jesus
No not pure in thought always
Teach me please
Take my pain dear God
Hold me when I fail
Thank you for your Love
Hope and forgiveness
Thank you for "Just Me and the Kids"
For the Moms Dads and kids
They too belong to you
Please don't let us let them go
Help me to help them
Whatever their need
Now please take my pain
That I may be able to do it
All for you Jesus
Nothing that would interfere
Me, fully loving you FIRST
As I lay here help me to relax
For a short time and please take my pain away.
The evening is over, JMK is over
It's late night now, my pain of the body is less.
But oh God my heart completely broken when a Mom at JMK shared that her daughter only 16 yrs. old tried to take her own life today.
I break out in tears as it breaks me apart.
In how that can be Father.
Please wrap your arms around this Mom and her precious daughter.
Dear Jesus how much hurt can this Mom handle. She already has a son in prema.
Oh my God she hurts so much
What can we do for her, her need is beyond imagining.
Help me to reach out to her Mom and her daughter
Touch the very depth of her heart and soul.
Talk to her Jesus, wrap them in your arms and please don't let them be alone or do it on their own.
Help me with her Mom to visit her soon.
To chat about words of comfort and hope.
So broken a world we Live in
Heal and speak to us Jesus so that we have the courage and strength to walk along side of this Mom and her two Sons, and more then anything her daughter
Let them one day be a healed family.
As tears run I give all of me to you.
Take me, heal me and use me.
That all the Glory will be YOURS ALONE.
Please calm my mind now for sleep.
Thank you Jesus.
I LIVE FOR AND LOVE YOU DEARLY.
t. Because HE Cares
PLEASE, allow God to help each one of us to be there for others, as much as the Members of Peace4 The Missing do. Particularly help us dear God to expose the bad parts about the Internet and Social media. Yes there are many, many great and exciting parts to the Internet. All of us have learned a tremendous amount for just being there and connecting and learning.
But let us not be afraid to keep repeating the parts that expose us and particularly kids.
One more thing which I really don't want to think about or actually write, my picture was/is being used in a FBI and RCMP Investigation. Also those who are into porn and there are many of perpetrators, BE SUPER CAREFUL OF THE PICTURES YOU POST as they are copied, Photoshop altered sometimes and being used by porn sites.