Update! I just got a friend request from someone with pics that advertised the 2010 Census. They also showed him with bumper stickers implying that he was running for office. I researched the name and discovered that the real guy was sentenced to prison earlier this year. Yes, the pictures match. Either he's looking for a prison pen pal, or someone's spoofing him.
This guide is primarily for women, although gay guys might get some of these invites, too. Men, if you have your own list, feel free to comment.
The past year has brought a flood of friend invites from Facebook IDs of unknown provenance and questionable intentions. Many are from phishers, catfishes, and scam artists. They can also come from exes and the stalkerish set, but no one seems interested in stalking a fat middle-aged lesbian of modest income.
Some of the 'tells' of a fake Facebook ID:
- Timeline has a few posts, period, and there are no friends or interests listed. Person is at least an 8 and you are a 5 or lower.
- Profile photo is of Hugh Jackman, and profile name is Hugh Jackman. Yes, I got this.
- Profile and name are of someone you are already friends with. Every once in a while, someone needs to create a new ID, but try contacting your friend first to be sure.
- USA military and widowed. Logic would suggest that the soldiers have a more dangerous lifestyle than their wives, but not with this bunch. Bonus points if the uniform displays a different name than the Facebook name, or is of foreign origin.
- Name is Western but consists of two first names, or surname used as first name. I've seen it happen in real life, but it's not common. Reveals a poor grasp of western naming conventions.
- Picture is of lily white guy "from Texas" (a favorite state-don't ask me why), but celebrity and sports favorites are Nigerian or Ghanaian. I understand Macedonia is also popular.
- Divorced or widowed guy was born in Texas, educated in Europe, and now works "in oil" in the UAE. Listed here because I've seen this several times. I guess this is to reel in gold-diggers. Hmm.
- Divorced or widowed guy was born in London, educated in Europe, lives in Texas, claims to be a physician but writes posts like "I lov music,i like siging.All my frid has gon to de stidio,but i dose not,just becaze of money money". Student debt is a killer, I guess.
- Picture is of gorgeous African-American man holding a rose, all posts contain romantic lines or praise The Lord. All his friends are women. Real or fake, he's going to break your heart.
If you do friend someone and aren't sure after the fact, use some of the standard cautions for the Internet: don't click on any links they send you, give them your personal information, and Google anything that sounds like a scam for money. Also: take another look at their profile to see if any new red flags appear. Real people usually have a lengthy timeline with less-than-relevant content, and tend to like at least one thing you don't. If the cupboard is bare, tread carefully.