Impersonating a real person to scam friends... never thought of that?

There is an article, published on Southeast Missourian on September 2, 2009 on this page (until removed).

I still think that people were not really smart to send money to someone just like that, but well... some people are easy to convince. And when a hacker takes over the account of a good friend! That's even harder to not believe.

Fruitland woman's friends scammed by Facebook hacker

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Until recently, Grace Parry's morning routine included sipping a cup of coffee while posting photos or messages to contacts on the social networking site Facebook.

But the hobby turned ugly last week when a hacker took over her Facebook page, scamming one of her contacts for $3,700 and the other for $600.

The hacker claimed Parry was in London and needed money wired to her. Parry attempted to post warnings on her page throughout the day, but the hacker blocked her from doing so.

Throughout the morning her husband, Mike, posted on his page warnings about the scam. Though Parry's account was disabled by 5:30 p.m. that day, the experience created emotional pain for her family.

"At first I was frustrated because I couldn't check Facebook," said Parry, former owner of Grace Cafe in Cape Girardeau. "It seems unreal.

"I not only felt angry but violated," she said. "I wondered that since they hacked into my account, would they show up at my front door?"

A new study by Aladdin Attack Intelligence Center found that social networking sites like Facebook are growing as a popular target for identity thieves and hackers. The report said that the ample amount of public data on the site makes it easier for a person to impersonate the user.

"What started as a benign 'fun' way to socialize grew into a professional way to maintain one's network and make new connections," the study said. "But we see this quickly turning into an online nightmare that will include identity hijacking (rather than identity theft) and damage to both personal and corporate reputations unless a more reliable, trustworthy model of easily connecting an online persona to true persona catches up with social networking sites."

Sgt. Jason Selzer of the Cape Girardeau Police Department said Parry's incident was the first he's aware of regarding Facebook hacking in the city.

Selzer said while no one can fully protect themselves from identity theft, there are steps a person can take to better protect him or herself. If someone believes he or she is a victim of identity theft, Selzer said that filing a report with the police department should be the first course of action.

"Criminals have all day to sit around and trick people," Selzer said. "They prey on the good will and compassion of others. They just do it in different ways than they used to."

Facebook users should use a different password for each account, whether it be on social networking sites, banking institutions or a ticket marketplace. He added that each password should be changed on a regular basis.

Selzer also advised never posting one's home address, phone number, e-mail address or Social Security number on a user profile.

"The vaguer, the better," Selzer said. "Your real friends know where you live."

As for Parry, she still plans on setting up another Facebook account, only with a little more caution next time.

"This hasn't scared me away from using Facebook," said Parry, who has yet to learn the identity of the hacker. "I know how important the site is for a parent because they can monitor their children or friends.

"When I do set it back up I'll change my password often and use a password that's harder to figure out," Parry said. "Taking steps like those are important so it won't happen again to me or anyone else."

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Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau, MO