College student "Catfished," photos used to lure new victims

 

An old scam, is being reinvented via social media and it's defrauding thousands of new victims.

Eighteen-year-old Andie Cafferatta's one of them.

"She said that she could turn $100.00 into $1,000.00," said Cafferatta of the Instagram post she found. "You see a small little blonde girl and you don't really think, she could be wrapped up in a scam," claims Cafferatta.

The person who goes by the Instagram handle "Emma_Pluto" directed Andie to put $100.00 on a Greendot Moneypak card. All "Emma" wanted was the pin number on the back.

The FBI tells CBS46, once you hand over that 14-digit pin it's over.

"You just gave those scammers cash," said Special Agent Stephen Emmett with the Atlanta FBI.

CBS46 searched for "Emma." Some on-line digging and we found the girl in the pictures, but she wasn't "Emma."

"I want people to realize in no shape… or form is this account related to me and I would never do something like this, I would never get involved in fraudulent activity like this," said Morganelle Whiteley a students at Kennesaw State University.

Morganelle Whiteley was "catfished," meaning her Facebook and Instagram pictures were used to create a fake account. It worked. While she was at school, a different angry victim showed up at her family's home demanding her money back.

"I would have never expected anyone to even know where I lived or found out where I lived through an account that's not my own account and that they somehow contacted people that had given out my address," said Whiteley.

Morganelle asked Instagram to remove the account only it resurfaced, a half dozen times. When CBS46 questioned Instagram what it does to police their app? It turns out, nothing. It's up to you to find and report problems.

"Have you ever read the privacy policy, Morganelle?" asked Kennesaw State University Information Science Department Instructor Humayun Zafar.

"No, I just check the box" said Whiteley.

Privacy and security policies make it clear your data isn't safe. Zafar showed Morganelle it's easy to lose control of your accounts.

"Let's say this person right here is your friend and you've set it my pictures are only shared with my friends, but that friend tags one of their pictures with your name, but their features say friends of friends, now your picture is visible to their friends, of friends to everyone," said Zafar.

Instead, on Facebook you can set the tag feature to delete images you're tagged in without your permission. You can also turn off features that give away your location with your picture. Zafar says, you should think twice before handing over passwords to third-party apps that link sites like Facebook and Twitter.

"It's not a good idea because you just don't know where that information is going and when you are passing on your credentials you don't know where they are stored either," said Zafar.

As for Andie, she's out $100. Morganelle hopes social networks will step up security, but she's not leaving it all to them.

"My only concerns is I'm coming out of college really soon, a couple of years and I'm going to be seeking employments and I don't ever want something like this to come up on me on a social media background check because I'm not a part of this," said Whiteley.

After CBS46 spoke with Instagram, the fake pages disappeared.

Computer experts remind you, you're only as strong as your weakest link and Instagram has fewer security features than Facebook. Here are some things Facebook recommends:

1. Pick a strong password and never share it with anyone else. Use a combination of at least six numbers, letters, and punctuation marks (like ! and &).

2. Know where you're logged in. The Where You're Logged In section of your Security Settings page shows you a list of browsers and devices that have been used to log in to your account recently. Each entry includes the date, time and approximate location when signing in, as well as the type of device used to access your account.

3. Make sure your email account(s) are secure

4. Log out of Facebook when you use a computer you share with other people. If you forget, you can log out remotely.

5. Run anti-virus software on your computer.

6. Think before you click or download anything.

Some Tips from Instagram:

1. Report problematic content. You can report content that may be in violation of our policies directly from Instagram app, with our built-in flagging feature.

2. Share with specific people. By selecting the Instagram Direct icon from top right corner of the application, you can choose to share with only a few people (up to a maximum of 15) rather than all of your followers.

3. Make your posts private. When you make your posts private, anyone who wants to see your photos or videos, followers, or following lists will have to send you a follow request for you to approve or ignore.

4. Decide whether you want to use your ‘Photo Map'. Adding location to photos, also known as using our ‘Photo Map' feature, is turned off for all photos someone uploads to Instagram. This means that photos won't appear on a person's Photo Map without their permission.

5. Block if necessary. When people use our blocking feature, the person they block cannot view their posts or search for their Instagram account.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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