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Identity Theft on FaceBook and Gmail - Twitter Saves The Day

Beware of Scams, Identity theft and Hi-jacks on FaceBook and Gmail - Twitter Saves The Day!

This morning I got an email from Fred Carver, an AR member I know well.  It came via Fred's gmail account.

Not 5 minutes later, I get a pop-up chat message on Facebook from Fred, the discussion went like this:

7:03am Fred says

Hi, how are you?

7:04am Brad says

just got an email from you...

Sorry i didn't inform you about our traveling, we presently in London UK stranded.Got Mugged last night at a gun point all cash, credit card,cell phone and valuable things where stolen away from us during the Robbery I will like you to assist us with a soft loan urgently with the sum of $1500.we need to sort out the hotel bills and get ourselves back home. we will appreciate whatever you can afford, i promise to pay back as soon as i return, Please let me know if you can help.

(it already seems fishy to me from the grammar, punctuation, not to mention if this really happened, why is he on Facebook? Hmmm.... Wouldn't he be at the police department and contacting his closest family and friends for help VIA A TELEPHONE?)

7:04am Fred says

It was a very brutal experience
Thank God i still have my life and passport

7:05am Fred says

Need your financial assistance

7:05am Brad says

how much have you raised?

7:06am Fred says

All i need right now is $1,500

(Having a gut feeling that this wasn't really Fred, and thinking that his Profile on FaceBook and Gmail had been hijacked by a scammer, it dawned on me that his identity might have been stolen, so this was my next response to try and fish out if this really was him)

7:10am Brad says

Good luck my friend, wish I could help you!  I just got ripped by the government in property taxes, I have 3 kids and a wife that have no income, an overdue house payment, and a car that's out of gas and I'm trying to figure out a way to get to the airport.  If that weren't enough, we have some person that wants to sue us for $60,000 dollars from a car accident and our deductible is exactly $1500.00 dollars, the exact amount you need too.  Go figure... I just don't have the nerve or guts to ask anyone for it like you.  You're a better man than I.  I hope everything works out for you my friend and yes, it's great you have your life and your passport.

(I know Fred all too well, and I knew the fake response above would flush him out if it wasn't really him.  At this point, I'm wondering who this really is and how they hacked into his Gmail email and his Facebook account?)

7:10am Fred says

Ok..thanks for your concern

7:11am Brad says

hey, how come you're not answering your phone???

7:11am Fred says

My phone was stolen
I told you earlier

(This is not the way the real Fred would have responded)

Then ALL OF A SUDDEN...  7:17am Fred is offline.
7:28am Brad tries to say....

Where should folks send you money?

FaceBook Chat responds:  Fred is no longer online. The following was not sent:

(So I head over to Fred's AR profile, check the date and content on his last Blog post to see if he's headed out of town, and the twitter feed on his sidebar confirms that my instincts were correct, and this in fact was just a scam and a hijacking of his identity)

  • Off to do a Building inspection today from my Townhouse sale this week :O)) about 23 hours ago


The lesson here friends is that we are all targets for scammers and no one is really protected against this type of thing.  I'm not sure how this happened to Fred.  I have contacted him to let him know, but keep your eyes and ears open at all times.  Be aware that these types of things are happening out there in the social media sphere and even with peoples email.  Guard your information always and protect passwords by changing them from time to time.

It's not about just being street smart anymore, it's about being Internet smart these days too. 

Had I discovered this really was Fred, and he really was in trouble, of course I'd be doing all I could to help him out.  How many others have been contacted in Fred's Gmail address book and from his Facebook account?  Have others possibly fallen for this scam and sent money to an address in the UK?  Hopefully not, but if you're a friend of Fred's or in his address book, then chances are, this post comes as no surprise to you this morning.

Keep your instincts sharp and in check, and Beware of Scams and Hi-Jacks on FaceBook and Gmail.  I look forward to Fred's response to this post so we can get to the bottom of this and get...  the rest of the story.... 



"Learn More. Get More. Do More. Be More."

Comment balloon 43 commentsBrad Andersohn • February 14 2010 02:59PM


Amazing the quality and quanity of today's spammers and hi-jackers. Sad but true you literally have to read every email with skepticism. Even from friends as that is why hi-jackers are so effective is we have a false sense of safety when an email comes from family or friends. Thanks for sharing Brad.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 10 years ago

Wow Brad, thanks for sharing this with us.  You have to wonder at some point...why he didn't call on his family instead of sending you email etc..  People are really getting sneaky at stealing other people's money. 

Posted by Sun City Grand Homes; Surprise AZ Real Estate and Homes,Josee Plant Long Realty West Valley, Arizona Retirement Communities Specialist (Long Realty West Valley) about 10 years ago

Hi, Brad. I got the SAME email, purportedly from friends in Vermont who...supposedly....went to a seminar in Scotland and had this very problem. They were asking me to send them $2,500. The email came through Gmail but the speech mannerisms were all wrong and I knew right away that it was a scam.

This is just the symptom of the disease, though, and 'm sure there's more where this came from!

Posted by Leslie Helm, Real Estate For Trail Riders (Tennessee Recreational Properties) about 10 years ago

Brad - I'm so glad you were so assertive and did not fall for it and thank you for giving us heads up on such a scam.  I also hope that Fred took necessary steps to get his account in order, I can only imagine how messy this could be.

Posted by Petra Norris, Realtor, Lakeland FL Homes for Sale (Lakeland Real Estate Group, Inc.) about 10 years ago

Wow!    That is an alert that we should all be paying attention to!    I know Fred, and would know that this isn't something he'd be doing, but for those who don't know him, they might wish to be "helpful".   Thanks for your posting!

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) about 10 years ago

This particular scam has been going around via email (and to YahooGroups lists, sometimes) for quite some time now.  Sorry to see it hitting Facebook, but I guess it was inevitable sooner or later. 


Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) about 10 years ago

Brad, all I can say is Yikes! Good for you for keeping your head. I just hate that they're everywhere and people DO fall for some of these scams. I think I'd have called Fred really quick. Besides, isn't he at the Olympics this week! LOL

Posted by Connie Harvey, Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate (Pilkerton Realtors) about 10 years ago

My neighbor and a friend both received a similar e-mail last week purportedly from an old friend in London.  The neighbor called me and asked if the message was legitimate.  When I heard that the money should be sent by Western Union my suspicions were confirmed.  Besides, this old friend has Parkinson's and doesn't travel.  Still, some scams are hard to detect.

Posted by Retired from ActiveRain about 10 years ago

Brad - A friend of mine had a similar situation a few months ago.  My Toronto friend had a friend in British Columbia (coincidentally where Fred Carver also lives) whom she did not communicate very frequently.  One day, an e-mail arrived at my Toronto friend's work e-mail account with a story about the BC friend being mugged in London, England and please wire via Western Union for about the same amount to pay airfare, hotel etc.

My Toronto friend was quite concerned but also a bit suspicious and sent an separate e-mail to a different e-mail address of the real BC friend.  A reply was immediately sent back from the second e-mail account.  After a few more e-mails back and forth in which the fake BC friend was only requesting funds be wired via Western Union, my Toronto friend called her real BC friend's house and her father told her that she was only out for a couple of hours and was NOT in London England.

My Toronto friend had even offered to call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other Canadian authorities to assist and suggested that the fake BC friend contact the Canadian embassy in London.  The fraudster would only respond with requests for money and quickly disappeared after the word police appeared in the e-mail.

I saw the string of e-mails sometime after the event.

It is very important to not trust things sent via e-mail very quickly.  Verify all information that doesn't make sense.

Posted by FN LN about 10 years ago

I actually received the exact same scam a few months ago. But this one came from what appeared to be a message directly from ActiveRain. I immediately called the person it seemingly came from only to discover it was as bogus as the one you received today.

Such a shame that scammers pull this crap on unsuspecting people.

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) about 10 years ago

I received the exact same email from Fred, but haven't looked at my Facebook yet.   I actually tried to call his cell at 8 am his time, poor guy - no answer.  Then I realized that he wouldn't be emailing us all from London at whatever awful hour that email came through, anyway.  I also concluded that that was not his way of writing also - bad grammar, etc.  Not Fred.  

Let us know when you do hear from Fred, though.......

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) about 10 years ago

I got one too and I just deleted it as I did not recognize the e-mail it came from.

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) about 10 years ago

The same thing happened to a fellow agent in my office.  I got the same 'chat' message from her that you got from Fred.  She was in the office 12 hours earlier, so I knew right away it was a scam.  I called her cell to let her know.  It is amazing what people will try.  She had it cleared up quickly.  Still don't know how they hijacke her account.


Posted by Jen Anderson (Exit By the Bay Realty) about 10 years ago

THanks for the heads up.  I'll watch my email.

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) about 10 years ago

Brad, A very similiar thing happened to me.  I got an email from a friend asking for came from what I knew to be her email account and she said that she needed money.  I had her phone number and called her---she was home and fine.  Scary because your first instinct is to just help them!

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) about 10 years ago

Very scary, thanks for keep us aware of this, now my friends knows that they can't ask me for money online! They must call me or meet with me in person!

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Thanks everyone for taking time to read this and take it serious. Identity theft "anywhere" at "anytime" is not good!!

The scary thing is, I have spoken to Fred via email, facebook, and on the phone many times, so I really thought this was him at first.  I think this scammer was trying to take advantage of the early morning hours trying to catch victims off guard and unawake me. 

I have since spoken to Fred (prior to posting this) and he is on a mission to figure out how this happened. I asked that he come comment and let us know so it could be prevented by others in the future. Thanks Fred.

On a brighter note: HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY to everyone, I hope to see many of you at RainCamp on Tuesday.  :-)

Posted by Brad Andersohn, ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876 (Executive Director of Education at eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Love your response back with the "False Fred."  You know it's bad enough when emails come from Nigeria and now Haiti, but from a personal friend, we've got to be very careful. Thanks for the alert.

Posted by Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS, Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA (Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA and Copperhill TN) about 10 years ago

Howdy there Brad

That kind of thing is one of the reasons, I do not use e-mail addresses in my e-mail accounts or even on my computers. As soon as I read an e-mail I delete it so its not in my e-mail account. Glad you did not fall for it.

Baker Home Energy Audit and Commercial Properties Inspections

Posted by Dale Baker, New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information (Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections) about 10 years ago

Geez. I do not Twitter, or have a Facebook account. I have enough to do to keep up here on AR! But I tell ya, this is just one more reason... Thanks for the heads up. Glad Fred really is OK!( we've decided we're cousins, LOL).


Posted by Debi Boucher, "Realtor Showcase" - Real Estate Photography/Virtual Tours ( Real Estate Showcase Photography) about 10 years ago

Brad - Very scary that someone can be hijacked like this.  P.S.  Your response was priceless.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) about 10 years ago

Brad, thanks for posting this warning.  It's bad enought that they steal our Craigslist ads, now they can hi-jack our email and facebook accounts! 


Posted by Nancy Murray, Your NICE Real Estate Agent in Colorado Springs (Keller Williams Clients Choice Realty, Colorado Springs, CO) about 10 years ago

This is really scary.  How do they manage to do these things?  Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Scams are everywhere, it is bad that now it is creeping up to Facebook and we have to really be careful especially whenever now someone asks for money! We need a voice verification!

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 10 years ago

WOW - makes me get a little nervous. I had someone hi-jack my Yahoo! account a few weeks ago.

Posted by Stephen Kappre, Helping You Home (KW Hometown) about 10 years ago

You just never know for sure anymore. Thank goodness the IRS screwed you or else you would have sent money to Fred. :-)  Kidding of course.

Posted by John Cannata, Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance (214-728-0449 about 10 years ago

I got the same email from him Brad. I didn't get the facebook message though and my facebook was open. Crazy!! It's a good thing these guys don't study your online habits for and the way you interact with certain friends first. There are a few of my friends, you included who I would drop anything to help. Had that email been from you, and the language was consistent with how we interact with one and other, I could have been the victim..........


Posted by Bob Stewart, ActiveRain Ambassador (ActiveRain) about 10 years ago


Thanks for sharing a bit of the scammers road map. It causes everyone to be a bit vigilant.


Posted by Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain (Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain) about 10 years ago

Yikes. Thank goodness for Twitter and the good instincts to detect the fraud!

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge about 10 years ago

An agent in my office got the exact email and they almost fell for it. It is amazing the scams that continue to fill our daily lives.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) about 10 years ago

What a world! What a world!

Posted by Elva Branson-Lee, CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent (Solid Source Realty GA) about 10 years ago

Wow, Brad, quick thinking on your part and I loved your response.  I tend to be pretty trusting of others and might have fallen for this scam.  Thanks for the eye opener.

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) about 10 years ago

Update: Fred called me yesterday during the RainCamp Dallas and left a message that he finally got the gmail thing worked out but the FaceBook issue is still screwed I mean locked up by the thieves!  He wanted me to let everyone know that if you get anything from him on Facebook, it is NOT him, so ignore or don't reply.  Hopefully he can get this all worked out soon.

Said it took him all day to work out the gmail issue, has doubts about facebook though since there's really no one to talk to or no one from facebook that can help him or that appears to really care. Hmmm...  

Posted by Brad Andersohn, ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876 (Executive Director of Education at eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

This is really scary! And also that Google knows everything we do too.  All the social media now, windows we have open, etc.  We are all exposed these days, that's for sure.  The new Google Buzz is so cool, and I really love it, but it freaks me out how much it already knows about us.

Thanks for sharing Brad

Posted by Kim Weis & Kelly Zarda (Platinum Realty, LLC) about 10 years ago

Thanks Brad!

I'v got it setup on my computer now.  Google tried to block it when I tried setting it up

Posted by C. Lloyd McKenzie, Living Albuquerque about 10 years ago

I saw this on the news a few months ago.  Some high profile people have had their accounts hijacked.  I think the publisher of Forbes magazine was the person talking on the news about his account being hijacked.  Writing style is like a finger print.  You can see the scam right away!  Congrats on not being taken for a ride and thank you so much for always sharing with us to keep us safe.

Posted by Maya Thomas, Broker, Please see my client recommendations. about 10 years ago

Boy!  This fake Fred didn't even have the originality to think up his own scam.  Messages with those exact words have been circulating for years.  The only difference now is that more of us are on multiple networking sites so there is probably more opportunity for the scammers to mine victims. 

The best advice is probably to never ever send anyone money who asks for it on line.  More than likely you are not "helping" the person you think you're helping.  I always call the real person and ask for more details.  Harder to hack the phone line.

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) about 10 years ago

Susan - I have actually seen where they "hacked" or "stole" the persons cell phone as well.  You can never be too careful these days. 

The best advice I can give is to take all the steps possible to make sure that the hacker is in fact a hacker, I would have hated to see this really happen to anyone and be blown off all because of some idiots who have nothing better to do than hack into peoples email accounts and social media profiles. 

Fred still hasn't gotten his Facebook account back and maybe never will.  :-(

Posted by Brad Andersohn, ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876 (Executive Director of Education at eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Great post.... good to remind us to question strange posts and emails. Unfortunately many of us would be quick to respond to a friend in need and not even question it. 

Posted by Kim Espinoza, Connecting Arizona Buyers and Sellers (Realtor, United Broker's Group, Arizona) about 10 years ago

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