Facebook Facilitates the Preamble to Fraud
For 20+ years, especially on the right, Dave Talan has been a bit of a celebrity in Rhode Island politics. I first encountered him in 2000 as a volunteer for the McCain campaign. One of our tasks was to collect signatures to get him on the Republican primary ballot. Dave did not support McCain (if I recall correctly). But he made a point of collecting signatures for John McCain and all of the Republican presidential candidates; his view was that they should all get on the ballot and then let the people choose their candidate.
I’d direct you to Dave’s Facebook page to learn more about him but that’s the problem. It’s been hacked and hijacked, so who knows whether what it now contains is accurate? Someone is squatting on his FB page, sending e-mails to the contacts on Dave’s list, pretending to be Dave as a wind-up, almost certainly, to fraudulently obtain money. (“I’m stuck in London …”) And Dave cannot reach Facebook to tell them.
See, you can only e-mail Facebook via Facebook. And Dave is locked out of his page.
Someone found a phone number for Facebook. Dave called it but it is not set up to put calls through to a human, only to a series of unhelpful auto responses. [“Press two for Tech Support.” – presses two – “Facebook does not offer Tech Support.”] Between politics and his other hobby, coaching baseball, Dave knows a lot of people. His FB contact list is many hundreds long. Accordingly, given enough time to fish in this large pond, the odds are pretty good that the squatter will catch someone who believes his story about “Dave” being stuck abroad and sends along some money.
When I spoke to him yesterday, Dave pointed out that this cannot be the first time that someone’s Facebook page been hijacked. But Facebook has made it so that it is impossible to advise them when this occurs.
Dave also clarified that his e-mail account was not hijacked; only his Facebook page. The squatter set up an e-mail address similar to Dave’s in order to carry out this dubious activity. (Here’s a hint for distinguishing the real e-mail address from the phony: Dave’s address does not contain any numbers.)
Three days and counting of this fraud-baited fishing expedition. By being so difficult to reach, Facebook has set itself up as a co-conspirator to it – the courts, if/when it comes to that, can decide whether their role is deliberate or unwitting. FB would undoubtedly claim the latter but their decision to be unreachable was clearly a deliberate one.
Dave observed yesterday that the one good thing that has come of this – to be balanced against the many hours spent fretting and trying to rectify the situation! – has been the slew of calls that he has received from friends and acquaintances checking on him.
Anyone who received a chat or e-mail from “Dave” which specifically included a solicitation for money is asked to forward it to yours truly. Anyone who actually sent money is advised to call the RI A.G. at 274-4400 and keep us posted.