Social Media and Identity Theft Frauds

  • Richard Marley
  • December 12, 2017
  • 5 minutes read
  • 5332

Imagine this: You get up in the morning and like most people; check your email. There you have an email from an old friend of yours. He is like, “hey bro everything alright in Hawaii? Did you get your credit card and access to the rest of the services. I hope the money that I sent reached you? Do let me know if you need any further help” You look at the email, you’re in shock as initially you can’t understand what to make of this email. You frantically look up your friend’s number and call him. When he picks up you ask him about the email he sent. Before anything else he asks about how you’re doing and if things have gotten better. You tell him that you never asked for any money and neither did you go to Hawaii on vacation. There is silence on the other side and he says, “Did you set up another Facebook account?”
You tell him no and he informs you that a couple of months ago he received a friend request from you and he accepted it since he had not seen any updates from your other account. So thinking that it was you he added you up. He also said you were keeping quite up-to-date on your new profile and a week ago you mentioned that you are travelling to Hawaii. He went on to say That a couple of days ago he received a message from you saying that your smartphone, credit cards and cash had been stolen. You tell him that you have not used Fb in ages and ask him to share the account. He tells you that you have been a victim of identity theft. You open your email while talking to your friend and he has sent the email including the link to the fake profile. You open it up and as you look through it you see the person has impersonated you and posted pictures from your profile including those from your trip to Hawaii 4 years ago. You tell this to your friend and he laughs nervously, he tells you that he had heard of such a social media scam, but he never thought he would be a victim of one. He tells you to check your privacy settings and inform Facebook. He lets you know that he will also contact Fb and inform them of the identity theft fraud. You end the call by telling each other that we should be in touch more often and communicate on a better medium than social media. You hang up the phone and as you go through the stolen profile you realise that a lot of your friends have accepted the friend request from the fake profile and you anxiously think how many were sent this message…

Social Media Identity Theft A Growing Threat

Although the story above talks about a hypothetical incident, but the fact is that identity theft on social media is a reality. The worst part is that it is getting more and more common. As banks and other financial institutions are able to identify fake credentials and individuals. The scammers are turning to the social media platform to steal the identities of real individuals to carry out their criminal activities. Some even use the social media to carry out fraudulent activities similar to the one mentioned above. Almost 3 in 10 people have witnessed or been affected by identity fraud. Given the statistics this number could rise even more if some sort of measure is not taken by such sites to deter social media scam.

Can ID Verification Deter Identity Theft Fraud?

Besides asking people to check on their privacy settings, social media sites should also try to use ID verification systems when it comes to profiles. There are companies that specialise in providing ID verification and background checks. If social media sites partner up with such organisations the majority, if not all, identity frauds that happen on social media can be stopped. The ID verification will ask the individual to prove their identity and hence most of the scammers will simply backoff realising they’ll be caught or will be unable to prove the identity they wish to take on.

How Does an Identity Verification Service Work?

Having mentioned that ID verifiers can deter a social media scam, let us see the process they follow and how it works. At the heart of the identity verification system is an advanced AI system that utilises the Internet, the user’s webcam or their smartphone camera if a webcam is unavailable. So in the case of social media sites, when a scammer sets up a profile, which includes  name, picture and other details matching an existing user, the ID verification system steps in. The user is asked to face the camera and then asked to share their ID focusing on the picture, name and DOB. The AI then matches all the details and checks for signs of tampering or forgery on the ID. The AI also checks the face of the person for excessive makeup, masks or other things that might be used to hide or distort identity. Yet it is smart enough to recognise glasses, facial hair, hair cuts, etc. Also, some of the better companies offer an additional layer of HI (human intelligence) to make sure that all AI verified information is correct. Live people verify the results of the AI to ensure there aren’t any false positives. The entire verification process takes less than a minute. Once the AI gives a thumbs’ up then the profile is allowed to go online. Such a system would prevent identity theft and fraud within the social media platform.

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