Did you know that Facebook scammers depend on you to help them with their credibility? And that once you “friend” them, it opens the door so they can dupe all your real friends along with all your friends’ friends?
Worse, Facebook actually helps them do it! Once you’ve friended them, Facebook automatically reaches out to your other friends and suggests that they too become friends with the scammer!
But don’t freak out just yet. This blog is all about spotting the fake Facebook profile! And when you’re done, hopefully you’ll be extra careful about accepting a stranger’s friend request, even if they are friends with someone you know.
Why Make A Fake Profile In The First Place?
Scammers make fake Facebook accounts for many reasons. But the most convincing scams need to look legitimate; Which means they need real live people as friends, preferably those who are respectable European or American professionals.
One of the most common scams is identity theft. For example, once you friend them, they now can send you and your friends viruses that infect your phones and laptops. These viruses can then extract your banking and credit card information or send out even more viruses to all the people in your address books.
But scammers don’t have to send you viruses. They just need to get the personal information that you and your friends post online. And what better way than being on your friend’s list!
A typical scam is to impersonate you and message your friends that you’re in trouble and need money. “Please help!” the scammer will claim. “It’s Graham, I’m stuck in London, I was just robbed and they took my wallet and passport!” If you ask how to help, they’ll give you wiring instructions. But of course, you’ll never see the money again. And neither will your friend.
Another con is to fake you into an online romance with them. Often they’ll reach out to you on Facebook saying they really like your profile. Of course you check out their Facebook page, see an attractive person with a bunch of reputable looking friends, (some of whom you know) and then are lulled into thinking all is well. But all is not well.
As they tell you about themselves, they’ll claim to be American. But in truth, they’re actually from India, Russia or Pakistan! Or maybe they admit they’re from overseas. But they have such a compelling story. And once you’re hooked by their gorgeous fake photo and their declarations of love, suddenly they hit you for money! They may claim it’s to get a visa so they can see you. Or maybe it’s about their poor sick babushka who needs a heart transplant. But whatever the reason, you are being scammed.
Think about it: Why would a stunning young model from Russia want to date a balding middle aged New Yorker? Aren’t there plenty of balding men in her own country? Legitimate people look for love in their own backyard. They don’t need to travel abroad to find “good men.” And if they’re as beautiful as their photo, they can find good rich men. Why risk contacting a total stranger in a foreign country?
Exposing the Fraud
These scams always have one thing in common: The person you are messaging isn’t real. It’s not their photo. It’s not their true name. And it’s not their real story. The gorgeous widow from Georgia is more likely a fat guy from India. And the hot Russian babe you connect so well with… she could very well be a man!
So to avoid heartbreak, check them out on Google and the links below. Also be sure to Google any phone numbers, names, usernames, photos, and email addresses. This may turn up their other fake profiles, or reveal that the photo belongs to someone else.
Spotting the Fake Facebook Profile: A Checklist with Free Links To Expose Their True identity
- Profiles Are Just a Few Years or Months Old, based on the date of their earliest photos. So are they living under a rock? If they claim to be a middle aged professional, and just got on Facebook, were they raised in a cave all their lives?
- Photo is Too Beautiful, Too Good To Be True
Beware of fake Facebook profiles with no comments, or lots of comments from “friends” on how good they look. But the person never responds or posts comments themselves. It’s also a red flag if there are no recent comments. Most people spend time sharing their experiences or responding to events, comments, etc.
- Person has MORE than 2 Facebook accounts, often with conflicting personal information, such as their hometown or occupation.
- You can’t verify any info about their age, occupation or where they live other than from their own social media profiles. See Age, DOB, Relatives & Where Else They’ve Lived. See also Property Lookups.
- You can’t find them in the Occupational Lookups when they claim to be a US doctor, lawyer or accountant. If they really lived or worked there, they should have an active license or at least an expired one.
- Their friends are international or unconnected to each other, as if picked hodgepodge, and they do not list relatives (people with their own last name).
- They claim to be American, but most of their friends aren’t. Or they don’t show any friends at all.
- They have few photos of themselves or the photos are of strange foreign places that seem to have been put their without rhyme or reason.
- Very few profile photos. (Most people have more than one or two.)
- They post very little personal information about themselves.
- Their photos turn up a different name when you use a reverse image photo lookup.
- Their cell #, username, email address or physical address brings up a different name or photo in Google or the free reverse lookups.
- Their Facebook Internet address has an entirely different name than what’s on their Facebook profile. For example: the Facebook profile for Graham Firestone should have an Internet address of https://www.facebook.com/graham.firestone. Be on the lookout if ends in an entirely different name such as https://www.facebook.com/Prashad .swami.
- Their account is updated infrequently.
- Very few likes or comments. (even their friends could be faked)
- Foreign language is found on their page or on the windows tab up top or at the bottom of your screen. See screenshot below and how window in yellow highlight shows weird foreign characters.
So What Does A Fake Profile Looks Like?
Notice the strange name in the Facebook URL above in red, or in the yellow highlight below? Ganesh Gosavi (AKA Josh Anthony) is obviously an Indian posing as an American.
Of course, not all profiles are this obvious. So I decided to look through his profile photos to see if any of his American pics turned up elsewhere in a Google Reverse Photo lookup.
So I put my mouse over the photo, right clicked and then selected “Copy Image Link.” I then clicked on Google Image Lookup, clicked on the small Camera icon to the right and pasted in the URL.
At first I was disappointed because all I saw was this below.
But when I scrolled down, I saw that the same photo was listed on various romance scam lists! Apparently, this guy gets around with lots of different names.
Extracting Text From Images And Then Translating Such
Often images can reveal the names of places, streets or towns. Here’s how to extract the text from images, even if it’s in another language! From there, you can Google the places or names mentioned, or to see if there are connections, try Googling the place along with what you think his real name is. For example: Bapti Swami Punjabi University. Key is that you download the image to your desktop.
Once you’ve save a copy of the image, check out this free text extraction site at https://www.i2ocr.com/# (no signup!)
If you don’t see this screen below, close your window and try again in a new window. Be sure to ignore all ads and ignore the box that says “accept cookies.“
For step 1 above, choose the language you think the image is in. Usually this is English, but here I wanted to extract and translate something from Hindi.
After you click on “Extract Text” you should see something like this below.
From there you can copy this text into Google Translate or perhaps use their own tool to get there. See translation below!
How To Stop Fraudsters
So now you’ve proven it’s a fake profile, and you may even know his real name, or where he works and lives. Sadly, often the best you can do is get Facebook to take down the fake profiles. This is especially true if the person is from a third world country where the police are unlikely to take action. The good news is that while anyone can cobble together a fake profile, it takes months and sometimes years to cultivate a credible one. So you are setting them back at least a few months if not years in some cases.
Sometimes Facebook might not listen to you about removing the fake account. But if the photo turns out to be of someone rich or famous, you can always enlist them to help you remove the fake profile! After all, it’s their likeness and it’s their reputation. You’ve just done them a big favor!
Sample of What To Post to the True Owner of the Photo via Facebook, Email or through Their Website
Warning: Someone is using your photos to set up fake social media accounts under the name __________________. He claims to be an American doctor working for the UN in Abu Dhabi. However, everything in the profiles are total lies which he uses to lure older women into bogus online relationships.
We believe the con artist is ______________from India; he may also go by the name of ___________________. May I suggest you have your lawyers contact Facebook, Twitter and Skype to demand these profiles be removed. No doubt more of these fake profiles are yet to be discovered. Sadly, we know of at least two victims who have been heartbroken. My guess is that he strings them along through texts and then asked them for money. Your photos can be found in the fake profiles below.
(List links here)
(List links here)
(List links here)
Friend or Alter Ego (found on his friend’s friend’s list)
(List links here)
Contacting the Fraudster’s American Facebook Friends and Warning His Family They May Be Investigated by the Police
If you know the person lives overseas and is unlikely to drop by soon, you may be able to deter them through FEAR and SHAME. At the very least, it may cause all his reputable American friends to unfriend him, and thus strip his profile of any credibility.
In the case of one Indian scamster who pretended to be American, I found a list of his family members through one of his earlier bogus Facebook accounts. The strange surname in his Facebook URL was a rare one. So I simply looked for those on his friends list with the same last name as his.
I also Googled his name with the name of an Indian engineering college found in his photos. Turns out he is almost certainly a teacher there. Once I identified the college, I was able to find his name on a 2020 teacher’s list. And guess what? His name was listed with a phone number and email address! A nice little gift to send to Interpol.
Women: For the sample letter below, you may want a male friend of yours to send it through their own Facebook account so it’s not traceable to you.
Sample of What To Post So Family and Friends Will De-friend Him on Social Media
Please be advised you are being contacted because you are listed on Facebook as either a friend or relative of Gupta Mudalla Singh. Mr. Singh is notorious for using fake social media profiles which he uses to scam American women into giving him money.
These fake profiles can be found at:
A list of his family and friends has been submitted to Interpol and the FBI for further investigation. Expect to be contacted soon.
Hope you enjoyed the fun!