Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Facebook scammer stalks St Mary man in Canada

Published:Monday | May 17, 2021 | 12:11 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
A St Mary man now resident in Canada has complained about a scammer who has made his life hell on Facebook.

Canadian resident Garfield Patterson says that for the past five months, someone has been using his picture on a Facebook page the impersonator created and has been targeting his friends for money and asking for his personal contact information.

Patterson, who is originally from the northeastern parish of St Mary, said the masterminds behind the fake account are tarnishing his image as they have posted his picture alongside a skimpily clad female.

The account has already secured almost 600 friends, and its creator also engages them in conversations, offering the veneer of legitimacy.

“He responds to friends and tells them that he lives in Buff Bay and they should come and look for him,” Patterson told The Gleaner.

“Anything can happen. This guy can lure down somebody and use the page to get somebody.”

Patterson said he has since closed down his personal page, but it has been challenging to get Facebook to close down the illegitimate account bearing his name and photo.

He also claimed that he made contact with two local police stations and the police Corporate Communications Unit, without success.

“This person is getting people’s information, messaging persons like it is me, asking persons for their number, taking persons’ personal numbers,” said Patterson, who alleges that a friend from Boston called him recently to ask him if he had made a request via Facebook for money.

Patterson explained that a taxi operator and his girlfriend, a hairdresser in Portland, are behind the fake page. He alleges that he met the woman via the Internet over six years ago and found out that they grew up in the same community in St Mary. He provided names and contacts for the alleged scammers, but when The Gleaner called the woman, the phone went to voicemail.

NO HELP IN CANADA

A man answered the purported phone number belonging to the taxi man, but the individual who answered said he did not know that individual.

“Canada say they can’t help me because the persons that are doing it are in Jamaica,” said a frustrated Patterson.

Head of the Fraud Squad, Senior Superintendent of Police Anthony McLaughlin, said that there has been an increase in social-media fraud since the pandemic, but he was not in a position to immediately provide statistics when he was contacted by The Gleaner.

“Since the pandemic, certainly, we have gotten more complaints about this,” he said.

McLaughlin noted that there are cases where individuals create a social-media page, with the image and name of someone else, for varying reasons, including soliciting money from unsuspecting persons, to get information, and to spread propaganda.

“So rather than I using my name, I just hack your account and use your name and face and everything or put a different face there and spread propaganda,” he told The Gleaner.

He said that persons sometimes clone the accounts of businesses on social-media platforms like Instagram, for example, to fleece persons of their money.

“What they will do is that they will go in and they just change a few things on it and use the same company’s information to solicit business,” he said.

The senior cop encouraged people to log out of their social-media accounts and email after each use to minimise the risks of being hacked. He said that persons can call the Facebook hotline to report unscrupulous pages.

“Once it is nothing defamatory and once it is nothing linked to a criminal network that will put them into trouble, then what most people do is to just disregard that social-media account and just open a new one and move on,” McLaughlin said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com