Have you received a friend request from someone you never heard of on a major social media site? Many of us have. Your requestor has a nice picture of themselves: a handsome man in uniform or casual clothes having fun, or an attractive woman with beautiful hair or smile. You check out their profile to see if you and he/she have mutual friends. Their only friend is a mutual friend of yours! So they must be okay! Right? Wrong! You need to get more information!
There are scammers, sometimes trained, on how to “win” your trust or affection and if possible, get some of your money. On a prominent psychiatrist’s show I’ve seen men and women, who “fell in love” with someone in another country. After corresponding with email or online, the foreign party claimed they wanted to meet this person because they love them or want to marry them.
But alas, they don’t have the money to pay for their passage to their “beloved.” So they beg their prey to send them money so they can join them in their country! The recipient of his/her affection sends a big check to help them. So do they ever hear or see their future spouse again? No, they either disappear or have an emergency that requires more money. This happened to a friend of mine! Where does the money end up? With the scammers!
Before you decide if someone is worthy of your “friendship,” there are some things you need to know first. Some of these people could potentially be bad guys. So it pays to thoroughly check out their profile for information as to who they really are, or aren’t.
Think for a minute about the topics of your posts: information about your lifestyle, family, occupation, the hours you work (based on when you post the most or least), when you are taking a vacation, if you have young children, …? Who knows if these friend requests come from just a lonely person trying to connect with you or to make as many friends as possible? Or are they stalking you, your family or your children. Usually there are signs on their profile for you to use to help you recognize, what I believe, are fakers or possibly criminals.
You could be a prime victim if you are lonesome, lonely, have low self esteem, shy, too trusting, single or suffering from depression. Here are some clues to help you decide if you want the unknown future “friend.”
- Do they have a profile? Does their profile actually tell you about who they are? Get all the information you can from it.
- Where are they from? They sometimes tell where they are living and where they are from and that’s all! Recently I received a “friend request.” The man claimed to be living in Afghanistan but was from the States. This was 8 days after the project to pull out our troops from Afghanistan began. I may be wrong but if I were getting ready to pull out of a dangerous situation, would I be looking for friends or love?? No, I would be packing up and getting out! Many scammers claim to be in the military, which is a shame! They often pick a photograph from some source that shows a person they want you to believe is them in uniform. These scammers use sympathy or pity as a hook.
- Does their profile tell you about who they are? A good profile should have such information as their occupation, interests, place of birth, present location, his or her picture, and marital status. Why would someone who has no hobbies, or information on their profile be of interest to you? Even if their setting is on privacy, they should make their profile available to you if they are requesting your friendship. Why else would they ever want to be your friend or you be theirs if you know nothing about each other to start with? There should be equality in information given. Why should they see your information first and have nothing to show you! (There is a privacy setting to block outsiders from seeing you or your posts.)
- What is their occupation? A few of the occupations (I’ve only seen the male versions) they use are “I am an engineer on an oil rig or in the Middle East,” or of course the military. There is nothing wrong with these occupations in themselves. But do check for the other pieces of the puzzle of their identity.
- Is their only friend, a friend of yours? If so, that should tell you they may likely be “fishing” for a new victim. They use one friend to use as a bait to reassure the next person they request as a friend.
- Have they ever commented or liked anything you have posted or written. If you haven’t seen their name, a “Like,” or any sign that they have actually looked at your comments or posts, then why would you think they are really interested in you. So what are they after? (I realize that anyone can see your posts unless you are using the privacy setting but some people don’t know there is one.)
- Who are their friends? When a man (which is all I’ve ever gotten) requests my friendship, I look on his profile. Sometimes there are only beautiful or young women, and no male friends. This may be normal but I find it very suspicious. This may apply to women too, I don’t know.
- Do they tell sad stories to gain your sympathy? People who claim to be widowers, (most of the male requesters that I’ve seen do). I should think it strange for a stranger to open up to you on line about a sad life and how everything has gone wrong for them. Of course if he has studied your posts he could pretend to have whatever interest or quality that you have.
- What conclusions can you draw? So with all of the above findings what can you deduce? They could have hijacked someone’s name and profile or more than likely made one up. If someone has been hijacked and failed to close their old page, perhaps someone could use it for their own devices? (I’ve seen one that had no entries for several months. then all of a sudden they are back. Suspicious? Yes! I had a friend request last night from a man, who had great photos but when I looked at the entry dates, in late June, his last posts were in April! Either he died and no one closed his account or maybe his account was hijacked. I scrolled on further down and there were posts and pictures of young African men with words, I didn’t understand! But my requester had no friends except a friend of mine!
There was a news spot about this recently telling how some men and women are trained to lie and steal. If you are lonely please volunteer, take classes, join a church, the YMCA or some group with interests you can get involved with. Empty praise from someone who has never met you is dangerous. I have a friend who was led on for a year by some guy claiming he was in Siberia but coming home soon. But he had several incidents that kept him from coming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhraC9-HoFk
I wrote this blog post after receiving several of these and three other single women who are friends had accepted friend requests too. When I got his friend request, I saw that he had no friends, except one of my friends. I deleted his request. You can report these people if you feel threatened or suspicious.
Stay Frosty! There are some dangerous people out there.