Investigators at the Highlands Police Department have been made aware of several fake social media accounts which have been created, claiming to be members of the Highlands Community. In some of these cases, an account is created using the name and pictures from the victim’s legitimate account. The fake account then finds friends and connections of the victim and contacts them using messaging apps. In many of the cases the Police Department has investigated, the fake account sends messages requesting sexual activities or images. The fake account may also publish images that appear to be the victim in suggestive or explicit positions. These images are not legitimate but are either said to show the victim, or the images have been changed using photo editing software to show the victim’s face.
Many of these social media scams have been reported to be targeting the local Hispanic community. The Department encourages anyone who has been the victim of a similar scam to tell all of their friends and connections that their account has been copied and ask them to report and block the fake account.
The Highlands Police Department advises every person to be cautious with their online activities. Here are a few recommendations to help safeguard yourself online:
When you receive a social media Friend, Follow, Chat, or Message request, make sure that you know the individual who sent the request, and take time to verify that the correct person actually sent it.
If you receive a Friend or Follow request from an unknown account, report the request to the social media company if the account appears to be spam, or if it appears to be impersonating someone else.
Check your privacy settings on your social media pages, and make sure that anything personal that you have posted is set to “Friends Only, or a similar setting. Do the same with your “Followers” or “Friends” list. Having privacy settings turned to “Public” allows anyone, anywhere in the world to view your information.
Be cautious in answering phone calls or text messages from unknown numbers.
Following these recommendations can help increase your privacy and safety online. For more information, do a web search for Internet Safety Tips and check out online resources such as staysafeonline.org