Saturday, July 27, 2013

Embarrassed to find a Crook as your Facebook friend

In India, the use of the Internet and Social Networking is predominant among the more literate middle classes, and it is quite unlikely to find semiliterate domestic helps using Facebook. Therefore, it was with a great degree of shock and trepidation that a retired couple and their adult children woke up to Facebook friend requests from a crook who stole Rs 25 Lakhs (50,000 USD) from their home, after  sedating them with a spiked sweetmeat.
Reclining comfortably on a double bed in a white vest, the thief appeared to mock their efforts to track him down. He was quick to change his phone SIM card to prevent the police from tracing him, and seems to be able to procure SIMs without ID’s or using fake ids. The thief’s attempt caught the eye of the local newspaper that promptly splashed the article on its front page, with his photograph. 
Catching the eye of the people and the public mocking of law enforcement efforts to track him will narrow his chances of escaping the noose of the law. Use of information technology always leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, and I would not be surprised if our cyber cops are hot on their scent.

Out of curiosity, I did a little digging of my own to find out what type of person he was, his friends and his posts. It was not without surprise that the thief and his friends were clueless about the privacy settings on FaceBook and their default settings allowed public access to all their profiles.  I was not motivated to undertake an in-depth study of this information, but the little I saw convinced me that there was quite a bit going on. Quite a few profiles appeared to be of  gay’s openly soliciting sex, other thieves posting that the law was after them, and perhaps a few educated people who must be ashamed that they can be seen on his friend list.
The thief also has set-up three profiles under the same name with a different set of friends, and posts in English. In India, a person who can write and speak in English, a second language would have had a school education. The use of computers, internet and Facebook indicates a fair amount of literacy.
The daily described the thief as a computer savvy domestic help, but it seems more likely to be a case of an educated professional thief posing as a domestic help.
Either way, it seems more important to set our privacy settings on Facebook to prevent people other than our friends from viewing our timelines and making our posts readable to an extended set of friend of friends, restrict information on wealth and travel, and not accept strangers as friends.
To be a friend with the crook on Facebook is a sure blot on one's reputation bringing along undue attention from other friends, the law and employers.
photo credit: kabils via photopin cc

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