Facebook (News - Alert): it can be a wonderful tool or a terrible experience.
Recently, a Minnesota man was accused of hacking into various women’s Facebook accounts and stealing their photos, along with some of their personal information, and shared said info with adult websites.
The accused, 26-year-old Timothy Noirjean, duped women into becoming friends and then went ahead with his scheme. Despite the reported 13 victims, Noirjean told police he hacked or attempted to hack 100 or more accounts. He’s due in court May 26, according to the Kansas City Star.
Noirjean admitted to obtaining the email accounts of victims through their Facebook pages, then persuaded the women to share answers to their security questions so he could reset their passwords. Noirjean would then reach out to the women’s friends and family in an attempt to obtain more information about the victims.
One of the victims first told police in February 2010 that her personal information had been hacked by someone impersonating her friend on Facebook. After instant messaging with this friend, the next time she tried to log back into her Facebook account, the site said her password had changed.
According to reports, the police found 235 other women's e-mail addresses and security information, as well as 92 folders full of women's names and photographs. The criminal complaint states that Noirjean confessed to conducting the scheme, though he indicated that he was unaware that what he was doing was wrong.
One of the victims told police she “friended” a man named “Steve Mills” who described a picture that had been taken from her computer and said it was posted on his website, according to the complaint.
“'Steve Mills stated that he would take down the posted photo, if (the victim) sent him a fully nude photograph of herself, which she declined to do,” the complaint said.
A quick Google (News - Alert) search and a little bit of homework will yield some good results on how to protect yourself from schemes like this. ID fraudsters target Facebook and other social networking sites to harvest information about you, so it is up to you to lock down your page as best as you can.
Always think carefully about who you allow to become your friend. It is also a good idea to disable every option then slowly add them one by one. If you’re only using Facebook keep in touch with people, maybe it's better to turn off the bells and whistles. It makes a lot of sense to disable an option until you have decided you do want and need it, rather than start with everything accessible.
“My advice would be to stay very, very aware of anyone asking you for personal information, either on a telephone or via a computer, or any other electronic means,” Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said. “You need to hold on to that information with the utmost care.”
Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.
Edited by Jennifer Russell