With Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, IM, you can now expand and keep up with your virtual entourage through a helpful selection of online tools. Just in case you needed to know what your high school chemistry partner had for lunch (grilled cheese). It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s a combination water cooler and walk down memory lane. The problem with these social networking outlets is that unlike the cafeteria, you can’t physically see people. The bully trying to steal your lunch money could be masquerading as your friend.
There are several ways to scam people through social networks. In a twist on identity theft, hackers hijack accounts and pose as your friends in order to hit you up for money. You may receive a message, supposedly from a friend, claiming to have been mugged and stranded without money overseas. He or she asks you to wire money ASAP. The imposter will use information readily available on your friend’s profile page to try and convince you. Something like, “Tom and I were in Paris and all our money was stolen from our hotel room. Could you help us get back to the States?”
Other cons have also migrated to social networking sites, and con artists don’t need to be hackers in order to reach you. Many people allow their information to be accessible, if not to the general public, then to a smaller, but significantly large number of people – for example, people who went to a certain high school or live in a particular city. Remember, con men are always looking for ways into people’s pockets. If you have listed modeling as an interest and you suddenly get approached by a modeling agency offering to put together a portfolio for you, it’s not a coincidence.