Facebook friend request from a stranger?
September 16, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

What might be going on here?

Out of the blue I received a Facebook request from someone whose Facebook pic shows an exceedingly handsome man, whose profile said he lives in London. I'm in the US. Normally I'd decline such a request, but I thought, "what the heck" and accepted the request. I then had access to his page, which is mostly blank, revealing only that he is self-employed, joined Facebook this past April, and apparently conceals his friends list from everyone. He claims to be from Stockholm, although he used the surname "Jones", not a Swedish one, and the picture he posted shows a tall, very dark-haired man who doesn't much look Swedish. I accepted the request thinking I'd send him a message asking if possibly he sent me a request by accident, and asking if we had met. He replied at 3:31 a.m. our time, which might indicate that he is indeed on western European time. He said that he had been searching for a former business contact when he "ran across my charming profile" and decided to friend me because he'd "love to learn more about me." He says that I look like "someone he met in NYC".
I know, I know, red flags all over the place!
Should I unfriend him immediately?
The one complication is that I noticed that a former boyfriend of years ago has joined Facebook. We are both married now to others, and live in separate areas of the country. I decided not to friend him, thinking that would open a bubbling cauldron of unresolved feelings for both of us. He may be feeling the same way. I would like to know how life has treated him, and he may be wondering that about me, also. It is somewhat possible that he may have engineered a false identity to find me anonymously.
As of yet ( just a couple of days) I haven't received any requests to wire money to the "London" man :-))
What's your advice, hive mind? Keep the "London" guy for a bit and see if anything happens, or unfriend him immediately? Thanks for everyone's thoughts.
posted by ragtimepiano to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow.

Unfriend the London guy, unless you have an open marriage and your husband is cool with you scheming on other guys.

You may just be about to be spamerated on Facebook, but really, what do you need with this guy?

As for your Ex. Leave that alone. If he's interested, he'll contact you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Block him, he has no interest in you or else he would have been ore open with this friends and activities.
posted by ladoo at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing this could be is a scheme for someone to get their company or product legitimacy on Facebook.

You can convert a Facebook profile to a "Page" for a product/company/etc. So what people will do is make a fake account with an attractive person as the profile photo, friend as many people as possible, then convert it to a company page that you've now Liked because you were previously friends with that person. Then they have what looks like a legitimate Facebook presence.

There's also all sorts of other things you can do, like post spam or on-click malware things to their timeline hoping you (or your friends) click on it.

As a general rule, don't friend anyone you're not convinced 100% is a real human being you have some sort of connection to.
posted by griphus at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


Should I unfriend him immediately?

Yes.

I haven't received any requests to wire money to the "London" man :-))

Probably he won't ask for money, if he's a scammer -- he's phishing for enough personal information on you to work around a direct pitch. Even if he's legit, it's still a bad case scenario, so defriend away!
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get similar requests to those, though they tend to be scantily-clad young women in the pictures. My theory is that it is spammers who are looking to map the social network by being able to see your friends, so that they can then use you and your friend's addresses as source addresses for spam to make it through your filters, as I get spam that looks like it comes from Facebook friends pretty often after accepting a few requests (and then unfriending them).

I now do a google image search on the profile picture, and when it turns up as being all over the Internet, I report it as fraudulent and it goes away in a couple of days.
posted by procrastination at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


What the actual what?

Unfriend the London guy. Don't talk to strangers, particularly on the internet.

Don't friend your ex. Leave the past well enough alone.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2013 [20 favorites]


Uh huh. Did you run his profile pic through a reverse image search yet?
posted by kmennie at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


unfriend him. there are all sorts of scams people do on fb. identity theft, etc. one is a visa marriage scam from people who want to come live in the US. i had a neighbor fall for it and married a guy who i have no doubt will divorce her the moment he gets a green card. why because he is 20something and she is 60something. people tried to tell her...
posted by wildflower at 12:21 PM on September 16, 2013


What, exactly, are you thinking might happen?
posted by mikeh at 12:22 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get similar requests to those, though they tend to be scantily-clad young women in the pictures. My theory is that it is spammers who are looking to map the social network

Ditto. Whatever the motivation, they're clearly fake. I've occasionally reported these profiles to Facebook, but mostly they aren't removed. Twitter is much better about axing fake accounts.
posted by cribcage at 12:22 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is your reason for not unfriending him? You feel attracted to him?
posted by Omnomnom at 12:22 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is unlikely he is a real human being. If you're trying to "hack Facebook" you create a few profiles that are all friends with each other, then have them friend more and more strangers until you have 20 or 30,000 virtual people who are tightly connected with the rest of Facebook's user base. You use software to make these looks as much like real people as possible (including answering occasional messages, probably with a few low-wage workers in China). Then you can advertise products for free. I wouldn't say you're in any grave danger, but there's no reason not to unfriend him, so....
posted by miyabo at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


So what exactly is the endgame here you picture if you keep him as a Facebook friend? I can't see any result that isn't a Bad Idea. He turns out to be a real guy interested in you and way cooler than your husband! He turn out to be your ex! Er, okay, and what then? If you're unhappy in your marriage, this is not the way to deal with it. If you're happy in your marriage, his is definiely not the way to deal with it.
posted by Sequence at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unless you're running some kind of business and use your personal Facebook profile to interact with potential or actual clients, there's zero reason to have friended a stranger in the first place. Unfriend him immediately; the best thing that can happen is nothing. The worst is very bad.

As for the ex, social media allows us to feel more connected to our exes than we'd otherwise be, either through actual interaction or stalking. No good ever comes of that. Leave it alone.
posted by moviehawk at 12:24 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unfriend immediately. Almost certainly not a real person. On the slim chance he is a real person flirting with you, no possible good will come of it, given that you're married. If he's your ex flirting with you, definitely no possible good will come of it. What was your reason for friending him, exactly?

As a general rule, don't friend anyone you're not convinced 100% is a real human being you have some sort of connection to.

This is an excellent rule.
posted by randomnity at 12:28 PM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


London guy is going to mine your profile, create a fake-you that looks just like real-you, friend all your friends, and then ask THEM for money or bank account information. It's a long con but it's surprisingly effective, it's happened to 2 relatives of mine. Unfriend immediately and tell all your friends that if "you" send them a friend request claiming to have accidentally deleted your FB, it's a scam.
posted by KathrynT at 12:33 PM on September 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


Doubt this is connected in any way to the ex. It's just a Facebook hacker, and that photo isn't of a real actual handsome Swede who finds your profile charming, I promise.

As far as friending your ex goes, I mean, I have friended many exes on FB, but I wasn't twitterpated about it and anticipating the contact to be a "bubbling cauldron." Since you are and you do, don't friend him.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:34 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agreed that this is a long con scam. I've gotten those requests as well, but strangely the pictures are all of young white college aged women. (I mean strangely because I'm a straight woman so they're not using the sexual appeal to lure me).
posted by sweetkid at 12:35 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like a beginnings of a future episode of this.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:38 PM on September 16, 2013


He said that he had been searching for a former business contact when he "ran across my charming profile" and decided to friend me because he'd "love to learn more about me." He says that I look like "someone he met in NYC".
I know, I know, red flags all over the place!
Should I unfriend him immediately?


I don't know, would you love to learn more about him? If the answer is yes, then send him a message. If the answer is no, then don't send him a message. This isn't rocket science.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:39 PM on September 16, 2013


It sounds like you know this is a bad idea but are nevertheless intrigued by the drama of it all. Unfriend the dude and move on.

Also, making a fake facebook profile is not "engineering a false identity". It's a simple internets scammer, not a KGB sleeper agent.
posted by elizardbits at 12:41 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Being friended by the London guy (who IS a scam artist of some stripe or another) and the fact that your ex recently joined FB is a coincidence, nothing more.
posted by scody at 12:48 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's possible this could be a clueless person wanting to make friends (I had a high school student in Nebraska try to friend me, and when asked why, she had no other reason other than "I just wanted to"). But I've found that always declining friend requests from people you don't know a) simplifies your life, and b) saves you from any potential scams of which you may not be otherwise aware.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2013


This is not a real person. You're falling for the facebook equivalent of those spam emails from "lonely girls" who "just want to chat".
posted by ook at 12:51 PM on September 16, 2013


London guy sounds hinky; I suggest unfriending at once.

Though it's interesting to know that it happens to women from male profiles. I've had several friend requests from profile bearing an attractive female photo and nothing else. These individuals usually boast at least one mutual friend, and I've speculated that whatever they're up to, they troll the friends list of other guys they friend.

Whatever. Save yourself trouble and drop London guy pronto,
posted by Gelatin at 12:52 PM on September 16, 2013


When strangers contact you, it is because they want something. Do you want to give it to them?
posted by spaltavian at 12:52 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am 99.9% sure that this guy has absolutely nothing to do with your ex. I'm 99.9% sure that this guy is either a weirdo or a scammer. The fact that you're making that connection, however, says that you're thinking about this ex a lot, to the point of finding it "somewhat possible" that your ex has created an elaborate false identity in order to contact you and spy on you, despite having absolutely no reason to believe that your ex thinks about you at all, ever. Making a connection between a mysterious Facebook stranger and a long-ago ex is completely within your head, not based on any facts in the outside world.

I think that you should give some thought to telling your spouse about this, or perhaps talking with a close friend or therapist about it. Because you've wrapped yourself up emotionally in your feelings about a total stranger. And when I refer to "a stranger," I don't mean the Facebook guy, mean your former boyfriend, whom you haven't spoken with in years and have no idea what his life is like. He's a stranger. And I think it would be worth talking with someone, either a trusted loved one or a professional, about those feelings, to help you deal with them.
posted by decathecting at 1:26 PM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Even if he's real, there's nothing good that can come out of this and perhaps a few bad things. Defriend him.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:15 PM on September 16, 2013


I get these occasionally. Do not accept friend requests from people you haven't interacted with, with the POSSIBLE exception of someone who includes a message explaining why they're friend requesting you and it's a legit-sounding reason ("We are both fans of this rare defunct band and I wanted to see if perhaps you have a bootleg copy of their 1972 concert at blah blah blah" or something.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:48 PM on September 16, 2013


Some anecdata, perhaps...

I always ignore these random friend requests, but I was bored one day and decided to respond to one recently (didn't "accept", just messaged them). This is what transpired:

8/21, 12:01am
[My name]
I usually ignore these kinds of things, but this time I have to ask, why the hell did you send me a friend request? You're in South Carolina, I'm in Australia. How did you find me and why did you choose me to send a friend request to? Or are you just a computer program pretending to be a human?
Curious. Not offended, just curious.
Regards,
[me]

9/15, 11:16pm
[Stranger's name]
Hello i do came across your profile.How are you doing ?? you seem to be a nice man i would like to know more about you if you don't mind ..Hi [my name] how are you I hope we can chat soonest

Needless to say I won't be friending this person and have blocked him/her.
posted by Diag at 6:44 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


How much do you share publicly in your profile? How much can your new friend now see? "He" could be harvesting personal information from your profile, and possibly your friends, too (some people have information set to be visible to "friends of friends").

Best case scenario, what do you get? A mysterious new friend? Worst case: identity theft.

And don't give in to the temptation to reach out to an old flame. If you do want to see how he's doing, tell your husband that you're doing so, and share everything that you pass along and everything that you learn from your old boyfriend. That way, your husband won't ever stumble across your Facebook account to find a back-and-forth conversation with someone (I'm assuming) he knows was important to you, and not know the context. I would suggest you ask your old bf to do the same with his wife
posted by filthy light thief at 8:16 PM on September 16, 2013


We are both married now to others

Less Facebook time, more face-time with your husband.

If there's something missing in your marriage that has led you to seek distractions with other men online, including an ex, perhaps it's time to re-ground yourself in reality. No fantasy men, please!
posted by nacho fries at 12:11 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


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