Eddie Leal, 23, was an up-and-coming professional boxer who gave free boxing lessons in his garage to down-and-out neighborhood teens. He was a good guy. And like most young men, was looking for a girlfriend.
One day he saw that a young woman, Rebecca Santhiago, was asking for a friend request on his Facebook page.
The brunette bombshell with fashion model looks said she was 21, liked to party and was attending college.
What Eddie did: He accepted the friend request.
What Eddie should have done: right-clicked on the profile image and then selected off the drop-down menu, “Search Google for image.” He would have discovered that the results were suspicious for a stolen image, and that Rebecca Santhiago – at a minimum – did not look like her profile image.
The next move would have been for Eddie to ask Rebecca to post a picture of herself holding up a sign with her name or his name – or a recent newspaper – because “I googled your profile image and it’s on other sites.”
Few young men would have the nerve to do this, fearing it would end the correspondence. But if it ends it, this likely means that the woman was fraudulent. Better to learn this early on, right?
A correspondence – only via Facebook, ensued. Rebecca said she had no phone.
WARNING! A 21-year-old college student with no phone?
What Eddie should have done: Requested she borrow a phone so he could communicate by voice or use Skype to see her as well. This request would have ended the correspondence. And saved Eddie’s life.
One evening he agreed to meet Rebecca at 2:00 in the morning at a nearby park – her idea.
WARNING! What woman in her right mind agrees to meet a man, whom she’s never seen nor heard speaking, at 2 AM at a park? Okay, a few oddballs out there might, but Rebecca’s request should have set off sirens.
What Eddie did: Drove to the park to meet her near a dark street corner, per the plan.
What he should have done: Insist that they meet in the middle of the day for lunch at a café. This request would have ended the correspondence. And kept Eddie breathing.
The meeting took place a few weeks after the Facebook correspondence began. When Eddie arrived and waited in his car, a young man appeared and shot him point-blank in the head.
Who was Rebecca?
She was Manuel Edmundo Guzman, Jr., 19, one of the teens who had once shown up to check out the free boxing lessons.
Extensive forensic investigating revealed that the Facebook messages had come from Manuel’s computer, and that the image belonged to a model unrelated to him. He murdered Eddie for the thrill of it.
Impersonating someone else via cyber communication is called catphishing. Manuel’s fake FB page included friends whom he may have acquired simply by inserting himself into cyber conversations and then making friend requests. Anyone can build a fake Facebook page. Usually it’s done for non-homicidal reasons, but you now know the warning signs of a homicidal catphisher.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.