first fake facebook ‘class of’ groups. now fake freshmen?

Poor Aria Wu. She really, really wants to join the SUNY Oswego Class of 2015 page. And the Belmont University Class of 2015 community. Ditto Wisconsin-Green Bay. And LeMoyne College. And Southern Methodist University. And, if you administer a Class of 2015 community for your college … probably yours too.

But she’s not alone. In addition to the alleged Aria Wu, Jamie Carson, Anthony Chandler, Kira Chang, Kimmy Chu, Anne Dietrick, Ava Mayer, Ashley Sandoval, Ella Scott, Riya Smith, Marie Steele and Cynthia Yu have all tried to crash multiple parties for admitted students. The why is unclear. Are they after important details of real students? Are they sleeper cells getting ready to sell goods and services to new students? Are they preparing to promote Facebook groups selling goods and services? Or are they harmless pseudonyms for someone conducting research?

The honest truth is that I, and colleagues at other colleges, just don’t know. We do know they aren’t freshmen at our colleges. After the now-annual tradition of marketing groups setting up fake Class of 2015 (or 2014 or 2013) entities at hundreds of colleges, the first reaction is to assume this is another peer-to-peer marketing scam. In the meantime, various figures have been kicked out of or banned from communities where they are interlopers. Poor Aria Wu has been banned from our group seven times and yet keeps showing up. So maybe Facebook’s “Ban User” feature doesn’t work that well or this alleged Aria has found a loophole.

So I don’t know what to make of it all, but I’m sharing this so other colleges can look at the lists of students in their Class of 2015 Facebook communities and see if any of these names — fake though they may be — look familiar.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “first fake facebook ‘class of’ groups. now fake freshmen?

  1. Dave Olsen

    For Aria, I doubt there’s anything stopping someone from making multiple accounts with the same name, photo, and bio info. Then they’d have different user IDs so your bannination wouldn’t catch them. Just a possibility.

  2. Well it just so happens that just after reading this post, my colleague did discover “Julia Brown” in our class of 2015 group who was not accepted, who had just posted an event about Wireless Student Discounts from StudentRate.com. She is a member of many university groups! Another student must have let her into the group… yes some of them are ready to sell goods and services to students! Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Tim Nekritz

    DAVE: I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It’s a private profile, so it’s quite possible they wouldn’t have to do much work to make multiple profiles. But still, seems a lot of effort.

    JULIA: Very interesting! I think you may be onto something. Happy we may be making some progress!

  4. Okay, another name to watch out for is Brian Lawson. After we posted about our situation, one of the students in the group mentioned that this guy had posted about buying textbooks online…and sure enough, he was not a student. My concern is that there may be worse motivations than simple scammy entrepreneurship. We are going to be checking everyone today; we haven’t regularly done an audit, and we have several admissions counselors who accept people into the group as well, so we will be limiting that to a single entry point from our side — we live and learn.

  5. Ann G-B

    Just booted Brian!

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