Social Media; A Treasure House For All Types of Scams
More than half of the world has one or more social media accounts, which have become a part of their routines.
While many see these as a source of networking and staying connected, the need of the hour in this digitalized world, social media accounts are like a gold mine for all scammers. According to the FTC, more than one out of four people have been scammed through their social media accounts in 2021.
Most of these scams stem from following a fraudulent advertisement link, a post, or simply a message claiming your money. More surprisingly, social media has been the most effective platform for all scammers, and they have earned millions through it. One of the many reasons behind this could be social media addiction and the willingness to share information online.
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History of Social Media Scams
Social Media scams have been there ever since its early days. In 2009, Facebook reached 200 million users out of which around 5.5% of the accounts were fake.
This led to a rise in dating scams, leading to many people losing money. Major signs of fraud were observed on Twitter starting in 2010 when fake accounts would post scandalous tweets to defame companies. Paramount Entertainment’s account was hacked, and offensive, racist tweets were posted on their behalf, destroying the company’s reputation.
Moreover, during the “Deepwater Horizon” oil spill, Twitter was used to spread hue and cry among the population, and the fake tweets gained more attention than the actual government pages. A Thai woman made a fake Instagram account and posted pictures of a children’s toy named “Furby” and stole over $200,000 by never delivering the toys!
Now we know these scams aren’t unique to 2-3 years; they have been there since the beginning. Still, over time, as the dependence on social media is increasing every day, scammers are taking advantage of this dependence and fooling innocent people in various ways. Facebook now estimates that it has around 68 to 138 million fake accounts, while 5-10% of the Twitter accounts are fake. People “buy” counterfeit followers from as low as $11 for 1000 followers on Instagram.
Moreover, 72% of the big companies believe that the use of social media by their employees poses a threat to their organization which is an alarming number. They fear that the employees might get trapped by scammers and leak their companies’ sensitive information. 24% of SMBs say they have been scammed on social media at least once. An alarming 33% of social media account users have complained that they have been sent links to malware.
Scammers see opportunities specially in Social Media. We can guide and support you, contact us now!
The Many Faces of Social Media Scams!
LinkedIn has more than 810 million users across 200 countries at present. It allows people around the globe to see each other’s professional contacts and help recruiters get the perfect fit for their job descriptions.
This professional image makes so many people fall prey to scams. The urge to get stranger connections and a false sense of security makes it prone to scams.
Con Artists make fake profiles not to reveal their identities and then post fake job postings.
They might urge you to pay a “small amount” in service fee to apply for a specific job. Professional scammers may even use promotional techniques to target their scam-prone audience.
In this method, scammers send you links or attachments that seem to be relevant to a job application.
When people click on these, they share their login credentials with the scammers and they could later clone your profile, take money out of your bank accounts and misuse your information.
You receive an email saying that your LinkedIn account is problematic e.g. it got hacked or an automated payment issue occurred.
The email address looks legitimate and close to real companies’ email addresses by employing visual techniques like writing L instead of 1.
The link in the email redirects you to LinkedIn to fix the “problem” and could use keylogging techniques to access your passwords.
Through various techniques, tinder scammers have caused people to lose a record $1.3 billion.
First, they make fake accounts and tell tales of their fake miserable conditions such as their financial or health crisis after gaining trust of the person they are talking to. The victims get so involved in the “relationships” that they repeatedly transfer money to the scammers’ accounts.
Most of the victims of romance scams fall under the bracket of 18-29 years but people over 70 also fall prey to these scams and lose as much as $9000.
In 2021, online romantic scammers also convinced their so-called partners to invest in cryptocurrency in joint accounts. After their partners have invested a considerable amount, they withdraw it and block the person. These scams have led to people losing a staggering $9770.
The most common scam on Instagram is phishing, where scammers send an email or DM from a fake profile that hacks your Instagram account.
These links will redirect users to click on a link to “fix” fake problems like suspicious activity or account suspension. However, the redirected pages are loaded with spelling errors and poor design trying to replicate original pages, so keep looking for these flaws. The scammers could access your personal information like phone numbers, bank account information and third-party apps. They could also change your passwords and blackmail you for money in exchange for your account.
Fake Goods Scams
Earlier, we talked about the woman who stole more than $20000 by posting about toys that she never had. According to the FTC, around 20% of posts showcasing high-end fashion brands feature fake products, and more than 50,000 accounts promote and sell these daily.
Furthermore, faulty product scams have increased by over 170% since 2016. The good news is that Instagram will take action and report these fake accounts if they are identified and reported. However, Instagram cannot do anything to stop people selling fraudulent products otherwise.
Fake Influencer Accounts
There are people who “buy” followers for as low as $11 for 1000 followers and then post giveaways. The catch of these giveaways is that you are asked to enter your bank account details to “claim the prize”. They are then asked to cover the delivery expense which will fall in the scammers’ pockets.
Some con artists also post about their lavish lifestyles and fake stories about how they got rich within a short time. These evil geniuses ask victims for an initial investment and say they will trade stocks or buy cryptocurrency on your behalf. Scammers are savvy but we assume you are wiser not to fall under these schemes after reading this article.
You might have heard of scams on Facebook, probably the oldest and most common ones. Like other social media platforms, Facebook also threatens similar problems like fake accounts and phishing messages sending you links to malware and then hacking into your system by getting login details.
The emerging Facebook Marketplace is also a gold mine for many scammers. They could post fake pictures of items and sell defective or counterfeit items.
Google Voice Scams
In this unorthodox method, the scammer pretends to be the buyer, takes the conversation to another site like WhatsApp or SMS, and asks the seller to authenticate themselves through a verification code.
This code is a two-factor authentication code sent by Google Voice. If they get hold of the code, they can create a new Facebook Account using the victim seller’s number. This could lead to them opening other accounts from the seller’s name or login into current ones.
According to a recent survey conducted by Lloyd’s Bank, WhatsApp scams have increased by a staggering 2000% in the last 12 months.
The most recent one was called “Mum and Dad scam” in which parents were convinced to transfer money into their children’s accounts by the scammers. The evil con artists, disguised as the children, told the parents that they had to change their number due to an emergency. It was “incredibly believable,” but the hackers had terrible grammar, which is how the mum noticed it couldn’t be her children.
Like other social media accounts, WhatsApp users can get phishing messages, claiming a prize if they click on a link and the condition to forward the same message to a certain number of people to get the prize!
Scammers can also install malware on your mobile phones, which could constantly track your keystrokes, spy on your activity, and even see through your phone’s camera the places you’re visiting and chores you’re running.
Users can be manipulated into sharing their personal information, leading to identity theft by promising a job opportunity or an attractive giveaway. Note that if you get an unexpected message with a six digit code to verify WhatsApp, it is a red flag and could lead to people accessing your account on another device.
Twitter, like other social media platforms, is also prone to fake accounts enticing users to malware and entering their personal information, which could lead to identity theft. Some specific Twitter include:
This scam attracts users by tweeting about ways to earn from home through various methods. They urge you to pay a sign-up fee to get the “Twitter Cash Starter Kit”.
Those who share their bank account details get money deducted from their bank accounts every month as “monthly subscription charges” and there is no stopping, and they eventually have to get their credit cards canceled!
These are some really interesting scams being conducted on Twitter. As scammers are getting smarter, they don’t want to creep into others’ inbox but use AI bots to fulfill the purpose.
The bots follow a pre-written script and offer the user free access to an adult webcam site which prompts users to enter their contact information and credit card details. This could lead to identity theft.
HAVE YOU BEEN SCAMMED AND NEED HELP IN FIGHTING BACK?
Scammers can create complex scams that can trap even the most cautious of people. But it’s not too late because we can help you track the damage done by scammers. We can help you get your money back!
How Can You Protect Your Information When Using Social Media
In this article, we learned how scammers can make fraudulent accounts and scam you in many ways you haven’t ever thought of! Now let’s help you keep the scammers away. Employ the following methods and you are good to go!
- Never ever click on links that even look legitimate before confirming that they are sent by someone you trust. Sometimes, your friends’ accounts might get hacked and if you click on the link they send you, your account will get hacked too and your personal details will go to the hacker. Treat all links to be suspicious, do not click on any link sent to you randomly.
- While buying something from the internet, for example, from Facebook Marketplace or Instagram business account, keep your conversations on the same platform. Do not give your bank account details and if possible, ask them to meet you in a public place, preferably in daylight.
- Keep changing your passwords from time to time and don’t tell anyone your passwords.
- Enable two-factor authentication in all the platforms which allow you to do so. This will help your accounts become secure.
- Do not share your live locations on any accounts; keep your information and accounts private. Check your social media privacy settings regularly.
- Avoid sharing too much information in your Bio or About section.
- Set keywords or passwords with your closest family members and ask for them if you get a message asking for money.
- Do not by any means give anyone your bank account details. Legitimate banks and companies will never ask you to provide them online.
You are now well aware of different scams lurking in innocent people’s lives and you could also
become the next prey of the scammers and they could loot you off.
Be extra careful in setting up your social media accounts and if you are scammed on any platform, experts at The Claimers will guide you get your social media accounts back and give you personalized tips for social media protection!
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