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3 ways to spot a fake Facebook friend request

Reading time: 3 minutes

Have you ever had a friend request on Facebook that seemed a bit odd? Maybe you couldn’t quite tell why you felt suspicious. Don’t worry. Here are three ways to tell a fake Facebook profile from a real one.

Fake Facebook sign #1: Do you actually know the person?

If you get an unusual Facebook friend request, first think about if you actually know this person.

Are they a friend of a friend you’ve actually met or heard of before? Perhaps someone you met in person a week ago?

Look at their other Facebook friends. If this profile has lots of friends in common with you, they are more likely to be legitimate. But if you don’t see many names you recognise, be suspicious.

Sometimes fake Facebook profiles belong to a network of false accounts. They may use these profiles to interact with tagging, comments and likes. It’s all an attempt to make them seem more like a real person.

Also consider whether their other Facebook friends are local to you. If their other friends are from far away places, how did they find you?

If you don’t know this person in real life, ask yourself why they are contacting you. Fake Facebook profiles might try to link up for very questionable reasons.

  • A romance scammer trying to contact new victims
  • An attempt to infiltrate a friend group to target a particular individual
  • A way to build social proof in the eyes of scam victims

If anything seems off with your latest friend request, block and ignore.

Fake Facebook sign #2: Profile inconsistencies

Hundreds of millions of fake Facebook profiles are set up every year. They are created by automatic programs called bots. And one of their weaknesses is that they can look fake.

Firstly consider their profile photo. Real people usually have happy snaps for their profile image. Fake profiles sometimes use photos that look too polished. This is because they are often stolen stock photos or professional studio shots. You may be able to find the same photo used again and again if you try a reverse image search.

Spot fake Facebook profile information

Next compare their photo with their other profile information. Do they match? Say they claim to work at a fashion boutique. Does their profile image look like an older man? A mismatch in these details can tip you off that something’s up.

Too many amazing attributes on their profile can also be telling. Say a photo of a luxury car and references to being a Harvard graduate and CEO. Some people puff themselves up online, but there’s a limit to plausibility.

Another thing to consider is that real people’s Facebook profiles can be highjacked. Check the account’s address in your browser bar, and compare that to the person’s name. A mismatch might indicate that a previously real account was compromised. If the profile’s activity has changed markedly compared to the past, it can be a clue that there’s someone else controlling it now.

Fake Facebook sign #3: Are they visible online?

Real people can leave a digital footprint over the years. It’s less likely that a fake Facebook profile will (unless it’s a stolen account).

Try searching for the person’s name and location on Google.┬áDo you get any hits outside of Facebook? This can suggest it’s a real person. You might find they exist on Twitter and Instagram too, or have a blog somewhere. You’ll have to consider these instances case by case and decide if they seem legitimate. If each of their online presences seems well established and active, that’s a hint that it could be a real person.

Not everyone will have multiple online presences though, so finding no digital footprint isn’t an acid test. But being active online for some time is at least a clue that it might not be a simple fake Facebook profile.

Finally, try searching for the person on Facebook. Are there multiple copies of the same person? Sometimes they may even have the same location and profile photo. This can be a straight out attempt at identity fraud. First make sure directly with your friend that the extra copy isn’t really them, and then block and report the fake account.

Do you need help identifying a fake Facebook profile?

If you need help finding out whether a Facebook profile is real or not, we can help. Melbourne Investigations provides a full range of social media and background checks, everywhere in Australia. Our private eyes know how to sniff out links and clues across a range of data sources to help keep you safe online. Contact us today for a confidential chat about your needs.

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