3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Beware of imposter Facebook accounts

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A scammer made a fake Facebook account from a real dentist's account. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) A scammer made a fake Facebook account from a real dentist's account. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
A woman ended up giving a scammer $100 in iTunes gift cards to him. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) A woman ended up giving a scammer $100 in iTunes gift cards to him. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Dr. Thomas Durisek couldn't believe someone used his Facebook pictures for a scam. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Dr. Thomas Durisek couldn't believe someone used his Facebook pictures for a scam. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

With more than 100 billion people active on Facebook, you knew it was only a matter of time this would happen. Scammers are using the social media website to not only steal your identity but also steal your money.

3 On Your Side explains how one Phoenix dentist found out the hard way.

A Phoenix dentist with a good practice and good following has discovered that a scammer has basically stolen his Facebook identity and is using it to manipulate victims. And the warning here is, it can happen to any one of us.

Thomas Durisek says he was caught off guard when a stranger recently contacted him through Facebook.

And this stranger had information that did not sit well with him.

“There was a woman who said that someone was using my images to attempt to scam her and he was actually on either Christian Mingle or Match.com, some other dating site,” Dr. Durisek said.

And she wasn't the only person. Another woman told Dr. Durisek the same thing.

“The guy is using pictures of me, pictures of my daughters, and pictures of my mother,” Dr. Durisek said.

The fake account uses a variation of Dr. Durisek’s first and middle name but if you look at all the photos, it’s all Dr. Durisek and even his daughters are all posted on that scam Facebook account. 

The only difference is that the scammer claims not to be a dentist, but a "petroleum geologist”. 

“I hate to use the word violated but I feel kinda helpless, like I can't figure out how to stop it,” Dr. Durisek said.

3 On Your Side spoke with two women who had been in contact with the fake Dr. Durisek account and even grew somewhat attached to him through their numerous communications with him.

The women, who we’ll only mention by their first names, don't know each other but say they're furious that a crook would use someone's real pictures and real family to toy with them like that.

“It's very scary,” one of them said.

One of the women, “Jen,” says the scammer established trust with her and developed nearly a three-month online relationship with her before asking for money, which started off with just $100 in iTunes gift cards.

But, then the "scammer" asked for $1,700 and that's when she knew she was being duped!

“I'm mad enough that I send the person $100 which is, OK, $100 is $100, but I'm even more mad that I wasted three months of my time talking to some fraud,” Jen said.

Jen might have been conned, but luckily Delynne wasn't. Even when Delynne confronted the scammer online, he actually came clean with her.

“And it did come out that he was from Nigeria. His name was Emmanuel and they do this to get into the Western world, the U.S., Canada. So he, they take con pictures and make up profiles of people so they can get in because if they put up a profile of an African we would never befriend them or accept them,” Delynne said.

The real Dr. Thomas Durisek reported the fraud to Facebook and the fake Facebook account was taken down, although now another one has re-surfaced.

Still, he can't believe his image, his family, and his background were being used in an attempt to rip off people.

“I just didn't realize that images could be taken so easily. I have no idea how many other people he has attempted to scam,” Dr. Durisek said.

We contacted Facebook which told us: 

"Misrepresenting yourself on Facebook is against our policies, and we have a dedicated team that's tasked with helping to detect and block these kinds of scams. We’ve developed several techniques to help detect and block this type of abuse. At the time someone receives a friend request, our systems are designed to check whether the recipient already has a friend with the same name, along with a variety of other factors that help us determine if an interaction is legitimate. Our team has also developed an alert that is sent when we discover multiple accounts with the same profile photo and name. The person receiving the alert has the option to report the account as a fake impersonating account. It's an area we're continually working to improve so that we can provide a safe and secure experience on Facebook."
-Facebook spokesperson

In addition, it’s difficult to keep someone from copying and pasting Facebook photos and creating a new account. Here are some additional tips Facebook recommends.

Regarding what people can do ahead of time for prevention:

Regarding what people can do if someone notices an impersonating profile, as well as what Facebook does to respond:

Here is a link to our Help section, where it describes how people can report a Profile, and the steps someone can take if they believe someone is impersonating someone that they know: https://www.facebook.com/help/181495968648557/ and https://www.facebook.com/help/www/207209825981040
When people report impersonators using our built-in reporting flows, our teams review each one and take the appropriate actions including setting checkpoints (which require you to provide additional information in order to proceed) or shutting down profiles if necessary.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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