Cloning the Congen: We know ‘why’ but not ‘who’
Why would anyone want to duplicate the Facebook page of Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon Jr.?
Tech hacks will tell you that these so-called scammers’ nefarious intention is to reach out to the person’s network of friends and ask them for cash. It may not be as simple as that.
I’m a FB friend of Congen de Leon, and if he asked me for money because he was stranded in Germany and was the victim of a mugging and lost his wallet, I would probably say, “Go to the Embassy. I’m sure Millie can help you.”
In short, this scammer — whoever he or she is – cloned the wrong person.
As it happened, I was on FB the morning of July 29 when I got a Friend request from ‘Mario Lopez de Leon Jr.’ My gut reaction was: Did Congen Unfriend me by accident and wanted to Friend me back?
I checked out the profile of MLLJ II. I saw only 1 Friend, Velzon Hizon Velez. I was the second. The photos were recently posted and it had no long record of activity. I knew something was off.
I checked out the original MLLJ. It’s there, nothing irregular to it. I sent Congen a PM asking if he knew anything about a second account.
Then I posted this on my wall:
There are now 2 ‘Mario Lopez de Leon Jr.’ on FB. The original (top) and the second one (below). The second one sent me a PM saying ‘muzta san ka now.’ The Mario Lopez de Leon Jr. that I know does not speak that way. #unfriend
By the time this post came out, MLLJ II has collected eight Friends, all of them I know.
There was a stream of comments from “change your password asap” to “iba na talaga ang sikat.” Comments that make you scratch your head because they do not exactly address the issue of social media privacy and security. But some FB comments are not of help but simply to show validating support, and that’s what some had done.
By afternoon, Congen – the real one – has issued a statement of his own:
To all my FB friends: Somebody has created a FB account under my name and using photos taken from my account….If you receive a request please report immediately to FB the profile of this impostor.
Shortly after that, the Philippine Consulate issued its own public information alert, warning the public about a duplicate account posing as the Congen.
“Profile cloning,” according to online articles, is a form of identity theft.
What happened to Congen is a classic case where his photos were used to create a phony account. The goal is to Friend many of his contacts so that the hackers can clone more accounts, and more diabolically, access personal information to commit fraud.
Changing your password will not help much, but changing your privacy setting is a good start.
For those terrified by Congen’s experience and anxious the same could happen to them, here are some things to keep in mind. These tips courtesy of the online site Heavy.com.