Frans Luijten is a police officer in the Helmond district. He has an active instagram account called police_frans. Recently, a fake account of his surfaced. “It is very annoying that there are fake accounts in circulation”, he tells EditieNL. “As a police you want to be reliable. People share their vulnerability through private messages and sometimes send personal information. You don’t want that information falling into the wrong hands.”
Luijten experiences in his work that followers send tips via social media or videos they have seen in which people show weapons. Or even more personal matters. “Children let us know through private messages that they are being beaten or abused at home, or people let us know that they are in trouble.” If that information ends up with fake agents, the police cannot help these people.
Recognize the fake account
But how do you recognize such a fake profile? “Officers often use the same layout, there is the same information in the bio and have a photo in uniform as a profile photo. With fake accounts you often see a police logo as a photo.”
In addition, there are more points where you can tell whether an account is real or fake, explains social media expert Roberta Fulgori of Social Rebelz. “Fake accounts are hard to spot when someone copies an agent’s profile. But there are a few things to keep in mind. Known accounts have a blue tick, so you know it’s real anyway.”
Number of followers
But not every agent has a verified account. “You can see how much content has been posted, if there are only three messages on it, then something is wrong. Also check which email address is under the email button. If it is a vague email address, then something is wrong.”
Finally, she thinks it is important to look at the number of followers of a profile. “Few followers is not a good sign.”