EXPOSED! Fake Facebook Accounts Attacking Facebook Groups

EXPOSED! Fake Facebook Accounts Attacking Facebook Groups

Last year Facebook revealed that 8.7 % of their accounts were duplicates, misclassified or undesirable. As Facebook today has 1.11 billion users this means that approximately 96 million of them are actually fake accounts! That is about the same amount of people living in UK and Canada. Additionally, about 10% of them are not even human! People have been creating accounts for their pet rabbits, imaginary friends and other fictional characters for years. In order to control all this misuse Facebook shuts down about 20,000 accounts daily.

Well OK, that’s terrible,.. but who cares?

What does it matter if some of the accounts are fake? Well, if you have been visiting some Facebook Groups lately you might have noticed those annoying ads for sunglasses, shoes and other apparel popping up every so often. Most of these ads come from those fake accounts. These were created on purpose and their mission is to perform different spamming and advertising operations on Facebook; especially on Facebook Groups.

Facebook Groups, when used correctly, are extremely powerful for marketing purposes, therefore they attract loads of unwanted members with fake Facebook profiles. But how can you spot a fake account in order to protect your beloved Group from attacks of these spammers and hard sellers? Here’s a few tips on that one:

How Do You Recognise A Fake Facebook Account?

Facebook Group requests from fake Facebook accounts If you are a manager of a Facebook Group and if your Group has a reasonable amount of members and posts you are bound to attract some unwanted guests. You can control this in the settings, but if your goal is to have a big, normal and active Group most likely your settings should be quite relaxed and open; and this leaves the Group vulnerable to spammers and pesky marketers.

The key to control this lies in your Membership Approval settings. It has two options: “Any member can add or approve members”, or “Any member can add members, but an Admin must approve them”. Always use the latter. This gives you as the Admin the power to keep out the unwanted. With this setting enabled you will now see requests from people wanting to join your Group and you get to decide who gets in and who stays out.

Before you approve a person into your Group, go ahead and click on their name and study their Facebook profile for a bit. This is what you should you be looking for:

How to recognise a fake Facebook account

If you are suspecting that one of your Facebook Group applicants might not be a real person here’s a few things that you can check:

1. Account Creation Date

I wasn’t born yesterday.

If the Timeline on the right shows that the person in question was, in fact, born yesterday, you can be pretty sure that he or she is not the real deal.

2. Groups Attendance

As the main target for these spammers are Facebook Groups most of these people belong to lots of them; usually hundreds of them.

3. Wall Posts

Usually their Wall is empty indicating that they don’t participate in the ‘normal’ activities people do on Facebook.

4. About, Photos & Friends

The same goes for the About page, Friends and Photos. If you see nada, zilch or zip there that is a tell tale sign.

5. Page Banner

Most people like to upload a custom banner to their Facebook profile to make it more personal. If it’s missing, you can add this to the list; although the latest fake accounts I’ve seen tend to have this one covered.

6. Facebook Profile URL

As above, most real people would want to customise their Facebook web address. If you see the generic profile URL (facebook.com/profile.php?id=123456789) usually it is a sign of a fake Facebook account.

7. Out of Context

If the person requesting to be added to your Group is not on the same wave length as the rest of your members. For instance, if they don’t speak the same language or if their interests are very different from your average Group person.

Here is another great example of a fake Facebook account. Can you pick up the tell tale signs?

Fake Facebook Account

(Hint: she has joined 421 Groups). Amanda did some heavy promotion for a well known sunglass brand the other day. Here’s one of her sisters doing the same:

Spam ad on Facebook Group

Not all these points need to be true to in order for the account to be fake, but if enough of them are, then chances are that you are dealing with a professionally created fake Facebook account. If you accept this ‘person’ into your Facebook Group pretty soon you can expect to see some unrelated commercial messages from them.

For the purpose of this article I accepted a few invitations to some of the Groups that I manage and this is what I got from ‘Marina Smith’ with in just a few hours:

Another spam ad on Facebook Group

Marina’s fake profile was a bit more developed that Jodie’s (at the top) as she did have a proper banner on it as well as some Likes, favourites and other evidence of ‘normal’ action. However, she was as fake as they come.

Hard Working Facebook Spammer – Lily Tomas

Facebook Group request from a fake Facebook account This girl (or boy, spammer, hacker, whatever) was really active earlier this year. She sent me requests to join two separate Groups that I manage on Facebook. One is about cars, Holden Commodore to be exact, and the other is a for a bunch of cool Finnish people who live in Brisbane, Australia. What makes her request to the latter a bit funny is that the Group is entirely in Finnish language, which is one of the most difficult languages in the world!

So anyway, I checked out Lily’s Facebook profile and immediately suspected that it would be a fake one. The maker of this profile went the extra mile though by creating a geographical location for Lily. She was placed in Melbourne, Australia. Nice, but it was not enough to convince me. However, I accepted her into the Group just to see what she would do.

Fake Facebook Account - Lily Tomas

…and I was right! The following day Lily decided to get to work! She posted an ad about some Nike shoes. Perhaps she thought Finnish people like Nike. Wrong! We use Karhu!

Spam ad from Lily Tomas

Landing page for a spam Facebook ad When I clicked the link on Lily’s ad it took me to a Facebook Page, or a page that looked like one, but then almost immediately redirected to it’s real destination (2fashion.co/?fbqrz), which was a professional shopping cart site for,…er, shoes.

The .co domain name by the way is the top level domain name for Colombia in South America. This does not mean that the people behind this ad scam were from Colombia, as any person from anywhere is able register .co domain names, no questions asked. I did some further research and according to whois information the domain is actually owned buy a guy called Tom Lin from, Tadaa! (trumpet sound)… China!

So, there you have it folks: a fake Facebook person from Melbourne advertising sneakers on Facebook for a Chinese owned website located in Colombia!

Mind you, the website is still there if you want to go and have a look, I just don’t want to link to it for obvious reasons.

Needles to say I kicked Lily Tomas out of my Groups. Her Facebook profile was taken down a few weeks later after her campaign play on us.

This is how she looks now:

Fake Facebook account taken down

Fake Facebook Accounts Exposed

Here is a collage of some of the fake Facebook accounts I came across during my research. As you can see most of them look alike, but some have been a bit more creative than others. I just love that Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried on one of the banners!

Fake Facebook Accounts Exposed - Social Media Revolver

Feel free to share on Pinterest. Just roll over with your mouse and click the Pin It -button top right.

What To Do If You Pick Up A Fake Account In Your Facebook Group?

Removing fake account from Facebook Group Don’t worry, there’s no reason to panic. If you see that someone is doing unwanted action in your beloved Group just go to your Group’s Wall and click on the hotlink that shows the number of members in your Group. You will see all members in a grid like fashion. Locate the person in question from the grid and click on the star icon below their details. You will get a pop-up menu with two options: “Make Admin” and “Remove from Group”. You know which one to choose.

PS. I do apologise if some of the accounts mentioned in this article in fact turn out to be from real people. Please contact editor [at] socialmediarevolver [dot] com in that unlikely event.

[Image: iStockphoto]

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About Kris Olin

Kris Olin is a web designer specialised in SEO, social media marketing, Facebook advertising and Internet promotion strategies. Kris has a masters degree in marketing, MSc (Econ.) and he has written the Facebook Advertising Guide. Follow Kris on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and .

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20 Responses to “EXPOSED! Fake Facebook Accounts Attacking Facebook Groups”

  1. Martin Says:

    Zuckerberg has no moral quarrels screwing over his closest friends.

    He now has ~950 mln ‘friends’ to screw over. All information you enter into FB will be used, one way or another, without your permission or knowledge. Looks like we are just products…

    Reply

    • Kris Olin Says:

      I agree, Martin! FB has had it’s fair share of security and privacy issues in the past few years. They should also do something about these fake accounts as I’m getting at least 2 requests per day on one of my Facebook Groups, and it’s getting a bit annoying now.

      Reply

  2. Lori E Says:

    They are also known to immediately block the page Admins so that we can’t see them to remove them.
    We have had to appoint a temporary admin to come in and get rid of them at times and then we go back to our regular admin group.

    Reply

  3. Josh Light Says:

    Kris,

    Very entertaining article. Easy to follow and I like your story telling writing style. Best line “Hard Working Facebook Spammer – Lily Tomas”…I laughed.

    It’s funny that there are more fake Facebook accounts than the amount of people living in the UK and Canada.

    Josh
    Josh Light recently posted…10 Social Media SEO Tricks Every Political Campaign Should Know AboutMy Profile

    Reply

    • Kris Olin Says:

      Thanks Josh! YEs, it’s crazy how many fake accounts there really are! Twitter is currently aggressively cleaning those up the their database, and I think FB will follow suit soon.

      Reply

  4. Michelle Says:

    I wish there was a way to block and ban them without adding them to the group first. With more than one admin these people get in easily. It isn’t until they advertise that you can ban them. Ignoring them only makes them ask over and over and over.

    Great article!

    Reply

  5. Mindy Says:

    I know how to spot these fakes. Problem is is that FB does not give us Admins any way to block these people unless we first add them and then remove/ban them. Shouldn’t have to go to all of that trouble. I have the same people trying to join over and over again, even though I select “Ignore”. Have decided that I am going to have to just starting adding them so that I can remove them. Ridiculous.

    Reply

  6. Haroun Kola Says:

    That’s what we get from free social network sites. Then again, would you pay for a social network?

    Reply

  7. Anna Says:

    Hi, I just came across a weird behavior.
    As soon as a person began to post stuff for sale in my group, I messaged her, asking her few questions. She replied to me in a very bad way and blocked me.
    She is the spammer and blocked me, the admin of the group.
    The problem is, since she blocked me, I couldn’t see her spam anymore.
    But others in the group could.
    I was able to remove it anyway because I remembered her name, but …
    if a spammer blocks immediately the admins, all there spam goes undetected.

    How do you deal with this?

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Derek Says:

      I either use my wife’s account or my sons account since he is in several of my groups. I temporarily make them an admin so they can delete and ban. Pain I know but it works to get rid of them. only other option you have is to create an alternate account for yourself to use. The easiest way it to use the alternate alias account and leave them out of your groups so they don’t get banned. Make sure the name of your other account is not similar to your main account. I made that mistake once and it got blocked as well. Hope this helps.

      Reply

  8. bunga Says:

    i found someone post porn pics at group comments, the person is not searchable on group member list, but he’s profile didn’t block me as the group admin.
    what really happened?

    Reply

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  11. Robert G Cathcart Says:

    I have gathered together the admins of most of the larger Facebook groups (populations upwards of 500) and created a separate secret group solely for the purpose of sharing information about spammers, fake profiles and cybertwats. The sharing of information in the background works quite well.

    Reply

  12. Robert G Cathcart Says:

    Sorry I forgot to mention “in Strathclyde in Scotland” lol not worldwide

    Reply

  13. Andrew Bloom Says:

    Sneakers?? We’re not Yanks here in Oz mate. TRAINERS!

    Reply

  14. Sue Patterson Says:

    Our group has 2600+ members and were just deluged with about 30 Jennifers wanting to join. All within an hour or so. Luckily we figured it out before too many got through.

    Good to know about the blocking Admin thing. What a hassle though.

    Reply

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