Have you ever accepted a friend request, not knowing who the other person was but simply hoping they could be your latest neighbour on FarmVille? Worse yet, have you ever gone out of your way to friend the people you see in the feed of your favourite game simply because you know it’ll grow your in-game friends? Be careful – friending strangers on Facebook could be more dangerous than you think.

In a study presented at the recent MIT Spam Conference, antivirus software publisher BitDefender alleged that social gamers who participate in such practices are opening themselves up to identity theft, spam, and other potential scams.

“We recommend social gaming aficionados to use extreme caution before enlarging their circle of friends,” says George Petre, BitDefender’s Threat Intelligence Team Leader and author of the study. “Users are more likely to accept spammers in their friends list when they are in a social network than in any other online communication environment.”

The study demonstrated that not only were social gamers more likely to accept friend requests from strangers, they were also more likely to click on blind links provided to them. When a shortened URL was posted on one of these profiles, a whopping 24% of the newly acquired “friends” followed the link.

To read the complete study, visit BitDefender.com.