How well do you know your Facebook friends? Like many Facebook users, it may be not well at all.

Con-artists use the social network to get all kinds of information on unsuspecting people who accept friend requests from strangers. A typical scam involves an imposter setting up an account and friending someone at random. When they accept, they are able to send other requests to their friends and will often use one of those friend's profile photos and information to set up an identical but fake account.

Then the fraudster will send out multiple requests from that person's list of friends. By accepting a friend request from one of these con-artists, the Facebook user grants permission for the faker to gain access to any and all information they've posted to Facebook. That includes email addresses, phone numbers, family members, photos, education, workplace and address, which is enough to get started on stealing a person's identity.

While it is rare, other incidents involved the "unknown friend" who has monitored when someone is out of town and has broken into homes using this tactic.

There are signs to look for to determine whether a friend request is coming from an actual person:

  • Has the Facebook user posted more than a few updates? Facebook does catch on to fake profiles and will shut them down. A profile with only a few posts and
    few friends is likely a fake.
  • What does the profile photo look like? Most times the fraudster will steal a photo they find online. It is often of a pretty girl. The fake profile we found used a photo
    from a model stolen from a website.
  • To check the photo, go to www.tineye.com to search the web for where the photo has been used before.