One of the strangest aspects of the Manti Te’o catfishing saga that unfolded last month was the woman whose pictures had been co-opted and used to represent “Lennay Kekua,” Teo’s fake girlfriend, on the fake GF’s social media platforms. The girl whose pictures had been taken had no idea her image was being used by a hoaxer to convince someone else of Kekua’s existence. This photo theft and misappropriation is a strange and often underreported aspect of Facebook scams, but it happens more than you might think, most recently to a Salt Lake City multimedia reporter, Andrew Adams.
Adams received an email from a woman in Thailand who had been scammed by a man using pictures of Adams to represent himself. The scammer, claiming to be Ralph Brown of Manchester, England, told the Thai woman that he had gotten into immigration trouble and needed her to send him money. However, the woman was suspicious; the man claimed to be 52 years old, but Adams looks younger than that. She reverse Google Image searched the picture, and found out that it actually belonged to Adams, a Utah-based reporter. Adams promptly reported the imposter profile and it was taken down by Facebook.
A lot of people are aware of the risks posed by conventional identity theft, though cases like this one represent a newer, more insidious breed of online scam. Ultimately, you can protect yourself by ensuring that your pictures are safeguarded by strong privacy settings, and don’t make your profile too accessible. The harder it is for the general public to see your Facebook profile, the easier it is to prevent weird, disturbing scams like this one.
In our complete walk-through on Facebook privacy and security settings we address the fact that your Facebook profile picture and cover photo are public by default; furthermore, this setting can’t be changed. For this reason, we often encourage our readers to use a generic image that might be related to a hobby, cartoon character, special interest, etc.
DoNotTrackMe protects your privacy by blocking online tracking. Abine – Online Privacy Starts Here.
BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams on Facebook.
PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.