With the advent of social media, we find ourselves dealing with an ever-increasing quantity of suspicious and annoying spammers and scammers. People like Jeff Bezos and others are clogging our social media accounts asking to be our friends, contacts, followers or connections. What is up with all that?
We must first state unequivocally that the Jeff Bezos referred to here is not the Amazon magnate who sends crap to my house with awe inspiring speed. The Jeff Bezos to which I refer is someone who just wants us to think he is that other, authentic Jeff Bezos; he (or she) is a scammer, looking to fool people for unknown nefarious reasons, and I have not quite figured out their end game.
On Twitter last week I was surprised to be informed that “Jeff Bezos” had followed me. I was certainly flattered that such a busy and important man would take the time out of managing his multi-billion dollar empire and fighting the National Enquirer over potentially compromising photographs in order to follow my 280-character musings. I was also surprised to see that he just joined Twitter this month, and he only has 8 followers. I would've thought a man like Bezos would have embraced Twitter a bit earlier – say last December – and would have an Amazonian level of followers; at least 15 or so.
A bit of investigating led me to discover that this was not the real, authentic Jeff Bezos. While the profile picture used was the same as the one the authentic Bezos uses, it was merely a scammer likely hoping that I would follow them back. It would be understandable if the real Jeff Bezos did follow me on Twitter; after all I am on a first name basis with my Amazon Prime delivery dude, and I have several Amazon Echo's that literally hang on my every word. But alas, that has not yet happened.
Fake Bezos isn't the only odd connection request I've had on social media. Many of the requests that come primarily through Twitter or Facebook contain strong sexual overtones, apparently with the belief that if they look sexy or alluring, men will accept their connection requests even though they don't have a clue who the person is. I don't know if that works or not, and I have no idea what the man who accepts such requests possibly hopes to gain from the effort.
One such follower on Twitter a few months ago really stood out for me. I did not recognize the person (and on Twitter, you often don't due to the design of the platform), but her profile picture was somewhat, well, unique. It was so different I saved it in case I needed an example in an eventual blog post on the topic. (Ta dah!)
I don't recognize her for some reason. Honest.
My all-time favorite scammer, however, was a friend request I received on Facebook a couple years ago. At the time I shared their profile picture with my friends, as it was really an exceptional request. Here is a screenshot of my share:
I know it is hard to believe, but I've never met this guy named Wendy. It is really pathetic when spammers and scammers can't even get the proper gender aligned with the photo they've stolen.
Of course, Wendy could have been ahead of its time, and just a foreteller of this whole gender fluid craze we seem to find ourselves in today.
So, what are these people after? Are they hawking a product that they hopefully get to promote to a wide social media audience? Are they after personal info, hoping to glean it from unsuspecting saps who are hoping to get laid by a dude named Wendy? To what end are their suspiciously reprehensible motives?
We can't tell, but we need to be cognizant of the risks involved. Social media is the wild west of our day. Largely unregulated and easily manipulated, users need to be aware of the dangers, and be careful with whom they associate.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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