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Fake Facebook account claims to be Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson

A Facebook page claiming to be Senator Dennis Patterson was removed, but not before contacting more than a hundred people in an attempt to collect personal information.

Page has been suspended, asks victims for personal information claiming to offer funding

A fake Facebook account claiming to be Nunavut senator Dennis Patterson has been circulating online, asking potential victims for their personal information. (CBC)

Nunavut senator Dennis Patterson is the latest victim of online identity theft, as a fake Facebook page claiming to be the well-known Iqaluit politician has circulated the web in recent days. 

As of Tuesday morning, the account has been suspended until it can be verified, according to a message from Facebook. 

Before its suspension, though, more than a hundred people were contacted by the fake account, including Jerry Ell, an Iqaluit native and Facebook friend of Senator Patterson's.

Ell was surprised when he got another friend request from Patterson, but accepted it anyway.

"I did think Dennis and I were already friends," says Ell, "but I just accepted without checking." 
A side-by-side comparison of Patterson's real (left) and fake (right) Facebook accounts. The fake account has been suspended by Facebook as of Tuesday morning (CBC)

After confirming a friend request, the fake account contacted victims promising access to new funding for the unemployed, widows, and the disabled.

If victims show interest, they're asked for their personal information, including their full name and home address. 

Nobody contacted by CBC gave their personal information to the account, which is a good thing, according to cyber security expert Pascal Fortin.
A screen capture of a message sent by the fake account after victims express interest in funding for the unemployed, widows and the disabled. (CBC)

"Some cyber criminals have also learned the value of information," he says, "And on top of defrauding you for that one payment, they will use your confidential information to get loans under your name.

"So they might try to steal your identity, or re-sell your identity, and there are quite a few things that can happen from there. It's so easy. This is something a teenager could easily do."

Fortin says targeting a Canadian senator could be a clue to who is behind the fake account.

"To use someone like a Canadian senator is definitely a little bit different than what we are use to seeing," says Fortin. "Because you would have to know about our culture to be able to do that."

Senator Patterson chose not to comment, but did say the Senate is investigating the fake account.
 

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