Authorities encourage social media users on apps like Facebook and Twitter to use caution when answering messages and friend requests. Police report that more scammers are turning to social media as an inexpensive way to expand their reach.
“I think there’s a lot for scammers to like about social media,” says FTC analyst Emma Fletcher. “It’s a low-cost way to reach millions of people. They can easily manufacture a completely fake persona or hack into an existing profile.”
Here are a few common social media scams that criminals use to fleece unsuspecting victims.
Shopping scams are one of the most common confidence games that thieves run on social media. These schemes usually involve criminals going on selling sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to sell goods that they don’t possess. After you buy the item, the scammers make off with your cash and never give you what you paid for.
It’s not hard to spot these scams. If a deal looks too good to be true, it is! No one is selling a brand-new PlayStation 5 for $300. Designer clothes cost more than thrift store prices, and someone selling them for less is lying to you.
Hackers love to take over existing profiles to trick people into handing over their bank account information. Existing accounts are more believable than new accounts because they have a history. If a hacker steals a pretty lady’s Facebook login, they have access to her pictures and her timeline of interactions with friends. This genuine-looking facade can trick unsuspecting people into thinking they’re talking to a real person, not a thieving criminal.
If you meet someone online who seems hesitant to see you face-to-face, get suspicious. Ask them to video chat with you, or meet you in a public place. If they won’t, cut ties and block them.
Investing schemes are usually nestled within romance scams, but they can occur on their own, too. These ploys involve a criminal tricking a user on social media into handing over money so the criminal can “invest” in cryptocurrency or some other asset. In reality, the scammer just pockets the money and tells their victim that the returns will be in “eventually.”
Never send someone money for them to invest for you. If you want to break into investing, use a brokerage app or contact a licensed stockbroker to help you invest. Stay vigilant and don’t fall for these common tricks!