Fraudsters Use Nunavut Senator’s Identity for Fake Facebook Page

3 July 2015

Apparently, no one is safe from Facebook fraudsters, not even prominent public officials. In an incident that local police are calling highly unusual, scammers with knowledge of Canadian politics have created a fake Facebook profile claiming to be Nunavut senator Dennis Patterson. The account was used to contact constituents, asking for personal information in order to access supposed public benefits.

Jerry Ell, one of the hundreds of Patterson’s constituents who were contacted by the scammers running the fake account, told the CBC he was surprised to receive a second friend request from Patterson, as he was already Facebook friends with the senator’s real account. However, he said he put aside his skepticism and “just accepted without checking.”

However, it quickly became clear that the account was less than legitimate. The scammers sent private messages to those who accepted the friend requests, pretending to be alerting them to new public funding for “the unemployed, widows and the disabled”.

Whenever anyone replied, the scammers sent this message in return: “What’s Your Full name…. Full Home Address…. City…. state…. Country…. Zipcode…. So that delivery company can bring your winning money to you at home in the next 24hours without no delay [sic].”

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone was fooled by this tactic, and the account was suspended on Tuesday, May 19, after being reported to Facebook.

Cyber security expert Pascal Fortin told the CBC that using a senator’s likeness to attempt identity theft is uncommon in the field.

“To use someone like a Canadian senator is definitely a little bit different than what we are used to seeing. Because you would have to know about our culture to be able to do that,” he said.

With fraudsters hungrier for personal information than ever before, it’s crucial to guard your Facebook account well against fraudsters and scammers. First of all, a strong password is essential to fend off hackers, and should include upper and lower case letters, numbers and other special characters. The email account linked to your Facebook account should also have a different password than your Facebook password.

Of course, it’s also important to stay vigilant against people who try to scam you out of your information by more subtle means than hacking. In general, sending your personal information by private message to anyone you don’t know well is a bad idea. Also, make sure to be wary of clicking on links sent to you by friends with no explanation or with captions that don’t sound like something your friend would say. For example, many Facebook phishing scam links come with a caption like “Is this you?!” or “I can’t believe what you’re doing in this video!” In other words, if something sounds fishy, it probably is.

To gain peace of mind about the possibility of identity theft and credit fraud, it can also be helpful to sign up for a credit monitoring service. This service will notify you in the event of certain activity on your credit file that might indicate fraud.