The First Lady, Patience Jonathan, is clearly a victim of identity theft (or impersonation) on social media. An online investigation showed that 16 Facebook accounts already bear her name, photograph and basic profile, though she had yet to register her presence on the social networking site. As a result of this, many regular visitors to the fake accounts desiring to meet with Mrs. Jonathan on Facebook have been deceived into believing they are communicating with her.
Posing as ‘Patience’ on Facebook, one of the unknown fraudsters involved in this scam has been using various tactics to lure unsuspecting members of the public to visit the page. The fraudster has been striving on the Facebook page, which she/he opened with the name ‘Patience Faka Ebele Jonathan’ on September 27, 2013, to bait unsuspecting Nigerians with promises of employment.
“I will give out jobs to some youths to thank God for what He has done for me and in my husband’s life,” the fraudster wrote in the First Lady’s name. Unfortunately many unemployed people fell for the trick. They trooped to the page, urging the ‘President’s wife’ to fulfill her promise. “Your Excellency, we thank you for your caring attitude. Please make us happy and you will find happiness. Thanks and stay alive,” one Rasla Raham commented on the page. As the fraudsters continue to fool some people on Facebook, there is a need to find out how many victims they have duped on the social networking site. While some of the impersonators have perfected their plan for various nefarious activities online, a handful of them are still struggling to do so.
A glance at some of the fake Facebook accounts opened in Patience’s name shows some discrepancies in her basic information, which is already in the public domain. For instance, on one of the fake accounts, which displays the photograph of President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife holding each other as profile picture, the date of marriage of the couple on the account was wrongly titled June 30, 2013.
But, just as the impersonators are fraudulently using identity on Facebook, their activities on Twitter is not different. At present, there are more than 24 fake profiles of Dame Jonathan on the micro-blogging service.
Although Twitter frowns on impersonation and regards it as a violation of its basic rules, many Nigerians are fond of the criminal act to further their selfish inordinate online activities. Twitter states on its Help Centre that accounts portraying another person in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended under the company’s impersonation policy.
In spite of this, many important personalities, serving and former political office holders, who fell victim to identity thieves on social media at one time in the past, have failed to report the matter online. Meanwhile, Nigerians expect the First Lady to significantly curtail the activities of her impersonators by embracing the use of major social networking sites. Some First Ladies in her position have begun to catch up with the bug. They appear to be using the new media to connect with the increasing number of people who spend substantial number of hours online daily.
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