How to spot a fake friend request? what you need to know
- Scammers, former or current romantic partners, or private investigators may submit requests for fake friendships.
- a person without connections shared with an unusual number of friends and limited content you might not be who you pretend to be.
This article explains who can send a fake friend request, why they can, and how to spot a suspicious request on social media platforms.
Why Someone Sends a Fake Friend Request?
You can receive fake friend requests on Facebook for a variety of reasons, some harmless and some malicious. The types of people who send requests for friendship false or malicious include:
- Scammers: Scammers create fake Facebook profiles and ask to be your friend to access personal information that you restrict to “friends only.” This information may include your contact details for sending spam or other personal information that could be useful in preparing you for a phishing attack.
- Malicious linkers: You may receive friend requests from attackers who post malicious links to malware or phishing sites that end up in your Facebook news feed after you accept the friend request.
- Catfishers: As MTV’s “Catfished” has repeatedly shown, the person behind that seductive profile picture may look nothing like the image. Catfishers create elaborate online profiles using photos of models to hook victims looking for love online. They can send random friend requests to a large number of people before finding a willing victim.
- Ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend: If a relationship ends badly and you unfriend him, you may think your ex is out of your circle of Facebook friends. However, your ex may find a way to get back into your Facebook account by creating a fake profile and befriending you using an alias. They keep track of what you’re doing without you knowing your ex is on the other side of the screen.
- Current wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend: If your spouse or partner is unscrupulously testing your fidelity, you can resort to creating a fake profile with an attractive profile picture to test them by seeing if they respond to suggestive messages or chats. Your spouse could record this information with the intention of using it against you later.
- Private investigators: Friend requests from fake profiles can be used by private investigators to get more information about you, the kind of information you normally restrict from public view and reserve for friends only.
How to Spot a Fake Friend Request?
Watch for signs that a friend request might not be genuine. Ask yourself these questions to determine if the friend request might be from a fake profile:
- Do you know the applicant or have mutual friends? If your answer is “no”, you already have the first clue. Check the person’s friends list, if you can see it, and click on the mutual list to see who you both know. Check with your mutual friends if they know the person.
- Did the friend request come from an attractive person? A man who receives a random friend request from a beautiful woman he doesn’t know should suspect a ruse. The same goes for women. A friend request with a photo of an attractive person posing provocatively is the bait often used by people who create fake friend requests.
- Is the request coming from a person with limited Facebook history? If the person joined Facebook recently, that’s an indication that the friend request is fake. Most legitimate Facebook users have a long history of timelines going back several years. Most legitimate Facebook users have a long history of timelines going back several years. Fake profiles are often hastily created, with most profiles indicating when the person joined Facebook.
- Does the person have an unusually small or large number of friends, and are they all of the same gender? Fictitious profiles can have an extremely small or incredibly large number of friends on their friends list. The reason is that they’ve probably put little effort into creating the fake profile, or they’ve sent a bunch of friend requests and gotten a bunch of replies. Another clue is the gender of the people on your friend list: the friends are likely to be predominantly of the opposite gender as the applicant, as they are likely to be targeted. If the request is from a woman targeting men, expect almost all men to be on the friends list, rather than a mix of men and women as you would expect from a real person.
- Is there little personal content on your timeline? You may not see much daily activity on a fake profile due to the effort required to generate “real” content. You might see some photos, and maybe some links, but you probably won’t see many location check-ins or status updates. This may or may not be true for scammers’ catfishing types they can spend a lot of time and effort to make their online persona look as real as possible.
What to do with a fake friend request?
The next time you get a random friend request, ask yourself these questions and use your answers to determine if you just spotted a fake friend request. When in doubt, the best action is not to accept the request.
I am Bhumi Shah, a highly skilled digital marketer with over 11 years of experience in digital marketing and content writing in the tech industry.