If Facebook fraudster Iain Wood has taught us anything, it's to distrust thy neighbor. Because sometimes thy neighbor stalks you on Facebook, steals your mail, then uses your personal information to rob you.
Over the span of two years, Wood stole a total of $57,000 from his neighbors in Newcastle, England to feed his nasty gambling habit. Was he some sort of masterful Facebook hacker? A Spam King in thief form? No, he was just a guy who ran a carpet-fitting business and happened to be good at uncovering information.
Wood spent 18 hours a day collecting personal details about his neighbors in conversation, through Facebook and Friends Reunited, and by stealing mail. He would subsequently sign onto the online bank accounts of his victims, claim he couldn't remember the password, then correctly answer questions related to mothers' maiden names and birthdays. To get cash, Wood changed the address of his victims' accounts and withdrew money with the replacement cards he received in the mail. He finally got caught after transferring $2,500 directly to his own account.
All pretty horrible and heartless on Wood's part. But the worst thing about his crime is how any guy like him—a slimy neighbor with nothing better to do but search for your info all day—can access your data. Does this mean we shouldn't friend our neighbors on Facebook? What if they make us cookies? What if the cookies are delicious?
Being suspicious and secretive with our acquaintances probably won't help too much. It's the system that needs a change. The average generic security question—where you went to high school, your favorite movie— isn't hard to answer. In fact, it's probably sitting on your Facebook for everyone to see. We can't continue allowing simple passwords and easy security questions to be the only barriers between our bank accounts and potential thieves. We need a new way to prove our identities online. Because no one should be able to access your bank account that easily. Especially not some jerk who's looking for a quick way to score some cash.