Facebook suggestions fuel fake profile business

Jun 24, 11 Facebook suggestions fuel fake profile business

by Nidhi Shah, Security Researcher

Have you ever encountered  people selling designer shoes on Facebook for prices that are too good to be true?  Check out these links if you have not (here, here, and here…).  The interesting things about these links is that the profile owner almost always is a hot chick with lots of male friends with regular posts about expensive shoes for sale.   The order links mentioned on the shoe photo go to many different domains which   ultimately lead to one store, kicksbay.com.

e.g.

Designer shoe leading to fake profile and fake storeleading to

The above three are just an example.  We searched Facebook for similar shoe products and found it smothered with such links.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126073080809309&set=p.126073080809309&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126073527475931&set=p.126073527475931&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126159517467316&set=p.126159517467316&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126217434128151&set=p.126217434128151&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126300230786487&set=p.126300230786487&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126408794109113&set=p.126408794109113&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126460707436911&set=p.126460707436911&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126460854103563&set=p.126460854103563&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126804947401822&set=p.126804947401822&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=126940920719740&set=p.126940920719740&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=127046007377110&set=p.127046007377110&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=127894873957922&set=p.127894873957922&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=128218357259011&set=p.128218357259011&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=128361313909783&set=p.128361313909783&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=129208183824889&set=p.129208183824889&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=129476437132948&set=p.129476437132948&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=129489630463165&set=p.129489630463165&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=129981733747345&set=p.129981733747345&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=130090707069591&set=p.130090707069591&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=130204773726573&set=p.130204773726573&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=131154313629317&set=p.131154313629317&type=1
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=133529226726132&set=p.133529226726132&type=1

Most of these profiles are similar enough in execution to raise suspicion.  Each one of them is pointing to a site that leads you to either kicksbay.com or similar site.

How many kicksbay.com site copycats are out there?   Well, here is just a snapshot:

one-sweet-pair.info
only-authentic.info
only-designer-goods.info
only-heels.info
only-jordans.info
only-louisvuitton.info
only-lv-heels.info
only-nike.info
pair-time.info
player-jordans.info
player-nike.info
player-pair.info
postjordan.info
postnike.info
postshoes.info
power-time.info
priceless-heels.info
rare-jordans.info
rarejordans.info
reallygoodjordandeal.info
right-jordans.info
right-kicks.info
right-nike.info
rightnike.info
runjordan.info
runnike.info
save-heels.info
sell-jordans.info
sell-nike.info
share-jordans.info
share-nike.info
share-pairs.info
share-sole.info
star-effect.info
star-feel.info
star-hoops.info
star-pairs.info
star-skills.info
thejordan.info
wholesale-jordans.info
wholesale-nike.info
wholesale-pairs.info

Clearly these profiles are fake and shoes they are selling are fake, and real people are getting scammed by it.

So why is this scam so widespread and successful? How are fake profiles able to acquire 1000s of real people as friends to whom they can market these shoes?

This is where Facebook’s “people you might know” suggestion comes into play. We all know that Facebook will suggest you list of people who went to same school, worked with same employer,  lived in same area or are friends of friends.  What about people with whom you do not have any such common ground?

As a test, on one of my profiles I had information about a school that I went to.  So far all the suggestions were for profiles with common school in common class. However on one of the fake profiles I encountered an ad for the “Miss Interenet” Facebook app. As soon as I added that app to my account all of my friend suggestions were for profiles similar to the fake profiles we encountered in shoe scam, girls with suggestive  photos and wall postings. None of them had anything in common with my profile except they might be related to “Miss Interent” app some way (as a user or liker).

Why is Facebook suggesting that? My hypothesis is that everything in Facebook world is identified as an object  with id. That means you, area that you live in, employer that you work for or school you went to are objects and so  is apps you are using, photos you are uploading and websites you are liking. If two people have any common object ID – they can be friends!