Noticing a spike in the number of social media scammers who create fake Facebook profiles to request money, the cyber cell of the city police has called for better vigil on the part of social media users to secure their accounts by enabling privacy settings. Accepting friend requests from suspicious accounts in Facebook is projected as the biggest risk factor now, which in turn helps fraudsters steal personal data, including photographs and mutual friends’ list, to create fake profiles.
Cyber cell officials who probed some of the recent such cases said many of the complainants did not even verify the requests for fund transfers in person. The majority of the complainants were well-educated professionals including doctors and teachers, they said.
“There were also a few who came to know about the trickery after transferring funds to the original persons’ accounts using the already stored banking data. Though many of them got their money back, such individuals were also the victims of the fraud,” said a senior Civil Police Officer with the cybercrime investigation team. He also pointed out that the practice of accepting friend requests from unfamiliar persons by casually looking at mutual friends’ list should be stopped for online safety.
An officer attached to the Kerala Police Cyberdome said the visibility of shared personal photos in Facebook pages could be limited by using privacy settings option as a primary safety measure. “The best option now is to enable it only for the account holder as fraudsters are on the lookout for maximum private photos to add credibility to fake profiles,” he pointed out.
In some of the recent cases, it was found that fake profiles which were reported to the police for action were mostly created by fraudsters who operated from Rajasthan and Bihar. However, no one was arrested in connection with such incidents. The number of First Information Report registered was also minimal as complainants wanted to end the whole proceedings after blocking fake profiles.
According to officials with the Kozhikode cyber police station, the tracking of bank accounts or phone numbers given by fraudsters was proving to be a difficult task for many reasons. In most of the recent cases, fraudsters were found using bank accounts and phone numbers obtained in the name of poor farmers in various north Indian States, they said.