Next time you see a familiar face on social media, you may want to pause before you connect.

A clever scam is making the rounds on Facebook, and it almost cost one woman thousands.

You log in to keep up with the ones you love. But let your guard down, and deception can ruin your life.

"I thought 'That doesn't sound like Carla, she doesn't talk like that.' This is not her normal profile," said
Charlotte Mobley, an avid Facebook user.

For Mobley of O'Fallon, Mo., it came in the guise of a long lost relative. She quickly accepted the friend request because she recognized her relative's picture. But a few minutes into their instant messaging conversation- Mobley knew something was wrong.

"I'm onto them," said Mobley.

This common scam is all about cloning, and it can happen to anyone. Hackers start by stealing your profile picture, your name, and your friends, Then the imposter will block you.

By the end, it can be hard to tell who is who.

"I said 'Clyde died' and she said 'Have you heard about the on going United National Fund Grant'," said Mobley.

She was sent a link, and a serial number, that her supposed relative claimed could quickly give her  $100,000.

But despite persistent messages, Mobley didn't bite.

"They probably say you need to fill out this application, need your social security number. Direct deposit, need your account number," said Mobley.

The UN Democracy Fund is a real program, but even they warn people on their website about scammers using their name.

While Mobley may have kept her money, she's lost her trust in social media.

"[I] don't have friends on Facebook; get out of Facebook completely. That's what I was going to do. I could do other stuff. I'll quilt," said Mobley.

Protecting your privacy

  • Experts recommend hiding your friends list from public view on Facebook.
  • You can also stop strangers from stealing your pictures by making your profile and posts only visible to friends.
  • Internet security experts also recommend rejecting friend requests from people you don't know. Once they can see your profile, they'll have access to everything you post.
  • Also be on the look out for duplicate friend requests. If a second profile pops up with a friend or family members name on it, verify it is them before you add them.
  • If you spot what appears to be a duplicate account on Facebook, there are easy steps to report it to Facebook.