Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
WEST JORDAN — By now, you're likely aware there are fake Facebook profiles out there, but the problem might be much bigger than you think.
Between April and June of 2021, Facebook said it took down 1.7 billion fake profiles – many created to sell bogus products and to scam people.
When a West Jordan business found someone was impersonating their page and couldn't get any help from Facebook, they contacted the KSL Investigators.
Despite an infestation of witches over the Halloween season, Gardner Village's biggest trouble has been haunting them through Facebook.
"Someone has stolen and impersonated Gardner Village's account and is trying to get private information from people, acting as Gardner Village," said Marcia Johns, Gardner Village's marketing director.
Johns showed the KSL Investigators how someone has lifted photos and posts off their Facebook page to create a new page. Then, the impostor invited people to follow that new, bogus page.
"The page is set up as a private account and not a business account," she said, "And so, when you follow it, you immediately get a message on your I/M that is asking for personal information and for things that we would never ask people."
But the most hair-raising part of this tale for Johns isn't the impostor. She said it is the response she gets from Facebook, despite the dozens of times she and her colleagues reported the fake page.
"So, I told them what was going on. Very detailed. I even had graphics spelled out to show exactly what was happening," Johns told us. "And they said, 'We can't help you — that it doesn't go against community standards.'"
Fed up with that response, Johns decided to call the KSL Investigators.
We contacted Facebook on Gardner Village's behalf to ask how this doesn't go against the rules. This time, a spokesperson responded within hours and wrote in an email:
"It is against our rules to impersonate a business and we disabled the account raised to us for violating these rules. We continue to get better at catching this type of behavior, including providing ways for people to spot and report suspicious behavior …"
Indeed, Facebook pulled the fake site down.
It was a big relief to Johns who worried about the reputation of the real Gardner Village and its staff.
"Because if you're quickly looking or you're not well versed in online security issues, you very well could be taken pretty quickly," she said. "Ultimately, we're not responsible, but that's our public image. I would hate to see the livelihood of 200 people impacted because of a social media account."
To protect yourself from an impersonator, don't accept friend requests from someone you don't know in real life.
Also, don't accept requests from someone you're already friends with on Facebook, — it's very likely a fake account.
From Facebook's Help Center:
Go to the profile or the page of the impersonator. Click the three-dot menu button below the cover photo. If it is an impostor page – such as a business, select "Find Support or Report Page." If it is an impostor profile – such as yourself or a friend, select "Find Support or Report Profile" and then follow the on-screen prompts to file a report.
Locking down your privacy
Open the Facebook menu by clicking on your profile pic in the Facebook app. From there, you can select "Settings and Privacy" and then select "Privacy Shortcuts." On this menu, you can select "See more privacy settings" and that will allow you to toggle who can see all your posts and who and how people can contact you. The "Privacy Checkup" tool will also allow you to configure various privacy settings.