SA Facebookers robbed through page clones

More than 400 South African Facebook users were recent victims of online fraud as the result of profile clones.

One of the victims, Dinesh Ramrathan, explained a friend’s alert of a received message which appeared to be sent by him, asking for money online, reported Times Live.

Knowing he did not send this message which declared his urgent need for money, he discovered his profile has been duplicated.

Ramarathan said: “My friends were caught off guard and accepted friend requests from the hacker, who then started sending requests for money.”

According to Bennie Labuschagne, an expert in computer forensics, online criminals make use of programmes designed to “deep mine” web accounts, which slips security barriers.

Debby Bonnin, another target of profile cloning, said: “My major concern is identity theft and all the possible ramifications of that.”

Bonnin feels reputation is a key issue on the Facebook community.

She added: “The person behind the false profile could use your identity to access confidential information from your friends and then there could be security or financial problems that arise.”

Manoj Maharaj, associate professor of information systems at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, explained while Facebook’s security walls are high enough, applications such as games which require credit card details provide a gateway for scammers to access personal financial information.

Maharaj said: “The risk depends on the user,” adding the amount of information shared can increase the risk of becoming a hacker target.

No cases of cloning in the country have been opened, although online cloning in South Africa became an issue as far back as 2010.

Personal information displayed online becomes a growing concern as the recent Pew Research Centre (PRC) report revealed an increase in biographic detail availability on the web.

Research showed teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 are particularly keen on being open online, with significant growth of Twitter and Facebook users.

“The sites themselves are designed to encourage the sharing of information and the expansion of networks,” the report stated.

Posted in: Social Media

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