Two television journalists from Baltimore, Maryland were targeted by hackers who cloned their Facebook profiles to extort online connections. The social media attack started with WBAL-TV executive sports producer Chris Dachille, who used to share his articles on Facebook.
Scammers created a fake profile with his name, photos and friends, who were spammed with messages asking for financial help.
“I get to write a blog about sports,â€ Chris Dachille told 11 News reporter Kerry Cavanaugh. â€œI’ll put up a link to that on my Facebook page, and it gets a lot of people to click on that. Someone was pretending to be me, asking for money, and that’s very troubling. My first thought was, ‘Do they have my banking information? Do they have my Social Security number, or stuff like that?'”
After accepting a friend request from someone posing as a co-worker, reporter Kerry Cavanaugh fell victim to a similar hacking attack. Scammers posing as her set up a fake page and started to send links to her real friends.
“It plays against the natural weakness of social networks,â€ IT expert Sean Gallagher told WBAL-TV. â€œEverything that they do in social networks is designed to get people to friend each other. They can send you links to things online that can be to sites that are filled with malware that attack your browser, attack your computer, and install programs that steal more information from you.”
Facebook took the fake profiles down only after a report was filed to the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, the two journalists said.
“Facebook is constantly developing new tools to help users tighten their security settings and educating users about best safety practices,” representatives of the social network told 11 News.
Last week, Bitdefender warned of a growing number of fake LinkedIn profiles that gather personal details and lead users to dangerous websites. The antivirus software provider has detected a new virulent campaign that lures victims with job offers from attractive female recruiters.