Friend spoofing is a rare but growing trend. In this scam, a fraudster will copy someone's social media profile (creating a new account with their name & photo) and send new friend requests out to everyone on that person's friends list.
For anyone who accepts the request - possibly on the assumption that their friend had a technical issue and are simply re-connecting - then the fraudster will try to engage them in a conversation. They'll try to exploit the trust that the victim has (who think they're talking to their friend) and "phish" for personal information, or potentially even claim to be stranded abroad and ask for a loan.
How can I spot these?
If you do receive a connection request from someone you're already friends with then be suspicious. Differences in the language they use, getting facts wrong, or even just your gut feel, may all add to your suspicions.
Never give much personal information away if you are suspicious, and never transfer any money (no matter how convincing the story!). Contact your friend via a different method (such as email) to check that it really is them. If that's not an option then gently test their knowledge of your friendship, or click on their profile and check that out.
If you ever discover a spoof account then alert the person who's account has been cloned, warn any friends, and report it to the social media platform they're using. Fraudsters only need a small number of victims to make it worthwhile.
How can I stop my account being cloned?
To increase their chances of fooling people fraudsters will only clone accounts they can view in full and learn about the person from. Make sure this isn't you - tighten up your privacy settings, and ensure your friends list isn't publically visible.