Claim: Facebook "pirates" perpetrate scams by setting up look-alike Facebook accounts that copy other users' profiles.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, December 2012]
WARNING!! Some hackers are now taking your profile picture and your name and creating a new FB account. They then ask your friends to add them. Your friends think it is you, so they accept. From that moment on they can say and post whatever they want under your name. Please don't accept a second friendship request from me, I have only one account. Copy this on your wall to keep others informed.
New scam on Facebook ... There is now "Pirates" who copy your profile picture and asks for friendship in your name with a new account. Do not accept any requests in my name since this is my only account ... Thanks to all ... Copy this post to the wall ... Recommended to all your contacts
Please be careful: some hackers have found something new. They take your profile picture and your name and create a new FB account. Then they ask your friends to add them. Your friends think it is you, so they accept. From that moment on they can say and post whatever they want under your name. Please don't accept a second friendship demand from me, I have only one account.
Origin:Warnings about Facebook "pirates" who copy other users' profiles were circulating widely on that social media site in December 2012 and have reappeared periodically since then.
It is true in a general sense that some scammers have engaged in Facebook cloning, a process in which the scammer creates a new Facebook account using a profile picture and similar name taken from an existing user, then sends out friend requests which appear to originate from that user. (The requests often claim the sender has just set up a new Facebook account or was locked out of his previous account.) The end purpose of such scams varies: it may be to send Facebook users links to malicious websites that propagate malware, to perpetrate phishing schemes, or to collect personal information from users that can be used for identity theft.
However, contrary to the example text reproduced above, Facebook cloning is not a "new scam," nor is there any evidence that its occurrence has increased greatly in recent days. (It also isn't a "hack," as the scam requires no special privileges nor breaking in to any Facebook accounts to accomplish.)
In general, Facebook users should always be cautious with friend requests: attempt to verify their validity before accepting them, be wary of additional requests from persons you have already befriended, and take care about what information you share with friends on Facebook.
Last updated: 27 June 2016
Originally published: 27 December 2012