Social networking is a great way of connecting with old friends and colleagues. At the same time, it has also become a plying field of cyber criminals who try to lure people into hoaxes. While we spend time browsing through our social media feeds multiple times a day, we don’t realize that we are exposing ourselves to potential social media scams. Today we are going to take a look at some of the most common money laundering scams on Instagram and Facebook so that you can stay buffered from the same.
22 Facebook & Instagram Scams you need to take seriously
1. Phishing scams
This is one of the most common types of scams that have been around for years. It involves sending emails including a link and some provocative warning which encourages users to follow the link. However, you will be redirected toward a spoofed website rather than the real Facebook or Instagram website. The website might ask users to validate their login information or reset their Facebook account after claiming that it has been disabled for security reasons. The fraudsters might imply that you have landed in trouble due to copyright infringement and you need to click on a link and fill out a form to set the record straight. The ultimate aim is to steal the confidential information of users. If you somehow fall prey to this type of scam, then your sensitive credentials might find their way to cybercriminals who might take over your Facebook or Instagram account and con your friends pretending to be you. The malicious users might also drain your bank account or rack up fraudulent purchases using your credit card. You should watch out for telltale signs like the use of generic greetings instead of personalized ones and poor grammar. Another thing that can serve as a red flag is the use of an unofficial email address by the sender which increases its chances of being a scam.
2. Account Cloning
You must have stumbled upon multiple doppelganger accounts while searching for a sports team or celebrity account. However, these clone attacks aren’t limited to just singers, actors, or athletes as the cybercriminals can also clone the accounts of regular Facebook and Instagram users. This is done with the main aim of reaching out to the friends or followers of the people whose accounts they have cloned. The attackers will claim that the “legitimate account” has been cloned and hacked. With a bit of luck and proper social engineering, the hackers might scam the main victims of their hard-earned money with the belief that they are helping out a relative or beloved friend. The quickest way to verify whether you are being contacted by a cloned account is by reaching out to your friends through a phone call.
3. Romance Scams
Romance scams are mostly associated with dating applications but they might also occur on social media. This is one of the oldest scams where fraudsters target unsuspecting Facebook users by posing as love interests. You might be approached by people whom you haven’t heard from before. Scammers commonly use flattery as a means of wooing people by playing on your emotions and gaining your trust. They will start by liking the victim’s post, commenting on them, and ultimately sending direct messages. They might also pretend to have gone through a traumatic breakup. Romance scams are a farfetched approach where the chats build up over months and end up where the con-man asks for money. You should be beware of “romantic interests” crawling into your Facebook messenger or Insta DM’s asking to purchase visas and airline tickets so that they can come and meet you in person. These scammers might also seek your help in meeting their daily expenses before they can come to stay with you. The display of affection is false and you might end up with an empty bank account if you are not cautious. If your would-be flame looks too good, then you should perform a quick search of their photos on Google to verify their identity. You should also become suspicious of them being a faux Lothario if they keep finding excuses or rescheduling to not meet. Another potential red flag is when they keep dodging video calls as that might reveal their true self.
4. Verification Badge Scam
5. Lottery Scams
It is almost impossible to resist the excitement of winning a prize and scammers can use this excitement to defraud you. They might pose as trustworthy brands or celebrities offering a big bounty just waiting to be claimed. You will be asked to pay a small fee for covering shipping and other processing costs. These types of scams try to lure people into divulging sensitive information like bank or credit card credentials.
6. Credit Repair Scams
While trying to qualify for credit cards and loans at lower interest rates, it is important to have a strong three-digit credit score. This is the reason behind the popularity of credit repair scams. Here con artists place ads on social media platforms or might send direct messages to users promising to boost their credit score by paying them. But it is impossible to instantly boost a credit score and you will have to do the hard work like paying your bills timely and paying down your credit card debt for increasing your score.
7. Bogus Job Scams
Just like lucrative prizes, it can be very difficult to resist a high-paying job opportunity. But before you say yes, you should know that this is a popular technique used by cybercriminals to extract personally identifying information. You will be asked to provide information like your social security number, home address, and even a copy of your passport or driver’s license before starting any job. This can be enough for a clever criminal to conduct identity theft landing you in a financial mess.
8. Card Popping
Fraudsters offer users a chance of making quick money if they first deposit checks into their bank account. These checks might be stolen from sources like mailboxes and at times, there might be no checks at all. The scammers promise victims a share of the money once they deposit these checks. They also request bank account information from the victims to deposit the checks. But the scammers simply steal the funds and disappear.
9. Shopping Scams
Facebook started with a simple social networking app and has developed into a robust e-commerce platform. You will find both small and large-scale businesses maintaining a Facebook page for promoting their goods and services through sponsored posts. The same also holds for Instagram where you will find brands advertising their wares with product ads popping up offering goodies on clearance sales. However, cybercriminals also capitalize on the popularity of Facebook by posting scam advertisements. They create fake brand accounts to sell counterfeit goods. You cannot take all of them at face value as some just turn out to be outright scams. You must have come across offers in the Facebook marketplace which seem “too good to be true.” While the sellers offer ridiculously cheap prices for the goods, they simply take the money and disappear. You should perform a Google search looking for reviews on the vendors and their offered products. Chances are high that you will stumble across experiences shared by scam victims on relevant online forums and review websites.
10. Fake Influencer Accounts
You might receive a direct message from a mysterious Instagram account promoting financial services represented by an attractive woman posing as an investment expert. These types of scammers try preying on your emotional weakness by telling about incredible investment opportunities in genres like forex, crypto, or real estate.
11. Charity Scams
It is human nature to offer help whenever disaster strikes. This can be in the form of donating money. Fraudsters take advantage of this to reap a quick payday. They might create fake websites, and charity pages and promote their charities on your Facebook feed asking the user to pay through their PayPal account. It is always advisable to do a little research before paying to the charity.
12. Sponsorship Scams
Social media influencers promote their products or services through Facebook and Instagram in exchange for a commission fee. However, often con artists pose as real brand accounts promising exclusive sponsorship deals if you have a decent number of followers. They will approach you for working together on an advertising deal. These scammers might promise to fly you somewhere and host you in luxury accommodation. They will ask you to cover up-front costs like travel expenses for meeting the team before the “partnership” begins. The con artists might ask you to cover fees like photoshoots and hotel accommodations with a promise of reimbursing the same once you have featured their product in the Facebook or Instagram posts.
13. Facebook Games & Quizzes
You might have come across “just for fun” games and “getting to know you better” quizzes on Facebook which seem quite innocent in the first instance. However, they might be scammers hiding behind a facade and trying to extract personal information used by people to answer security questions and create passwords for their online accounts. Cybercriminals use these quizzes to hack into the Facebook account of users and can inflict different types of damage ranging from fraud to identity theft.
14. Stuck Abroad Scam
If you received a direct message on Facebook or Instagram from an acquaintance saying they have been stuck abroad and their wallet has been stolen, thus asking for money, then you need to be wary about remitting the funds. This is a popular type of scam when someone hacks into your friend or family’s account or creates a profile mimicking them.
15. Money Flipping Scams
Sketchy “cash flipping” and “get rich quick” schemes have been getting out of control lately. A scam account preys on the emotional weakness of people by flaunting a lavish lifestyle and financial success. The con artists post non-stop stories and posts featuring luxury goods, expensive cars, and heaps of cash. These posts are usually accompanied by captions that rant endlessly about how they made it big. Once you get hooked on their lifestyle, they will promise to teach you how to do the same. To get started, they will request an “initial investment” for buying cryptocurrency or trading stocks on your behalf. However, they will disappear along with your cash once you transfer the money.
16. Fake Friend Requests
If you have been on Facebook for a while, then you must have received fake friend requests. This is a preferred tactic of scammers who mimic a legitimate person by replicating their entire Facebook accounts. On accepting a fake friend request, the scammer gets insider access to your information even when you have a locked Facebook account. These scammers coax you into falling for their other scams like installing malicious software or bogus links on your device.
17. Healthcare Scam
False medicare and social security ads popping up on your social media feed is a popular form of healthcare scam. Various services are offered by these companies like corrections to social security cards, replacing a lost card, and more. These companies feature the Medicare logo to make them seem legitimate. However, they charge a fee for the services which can otherwise be availed free of charge from Social Security. These scammers play on people’s healthcare needs and simply disappear with the money offered.
18. Fake Job Scams
A large number of people lost their jobs during the pandemic and scammers have been taking advantage of the financially broke people searching for jobs online. They will promote a job opportunity across various social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook which seem too good to be true. You will be required to submit your data like phone number, home address, driver’s license, social security number, and more to accept the job offer. This can make you fall prey to identity theft as the con artists open credit card accounts in your name, increase your credit card debt and ultimately drain your bank accounts.
19. Suspicious Links
Facebook users often receive private messages claiming to have their video. These messages might come from their Facebook connections saying “Have you seen this yet?” or “OMG is that you?” However, these messages aren’t sent by an acquaintance but by cybercriminals who might have hacked into their account to send malware links. Once you click on the link or video, you will be redirected to a website that installs malware on your device so that scammers gain control by infecting your computer, smartphone, or tablet to spread malware among your friends and family.
20. Free Gift Card Scams
There are often social media posts claiming to offer gift cards to popular stores like Target, Starbucks, and more announcing you have won the lottery. You will be taken to a different site after clicking the link and will be asked to enter your banking information before claiming the winnings. But they will simply end up stealing from you by playing on people’s natural desire for free money.
21. Bogus Discounts & Coupons
Hackers often offer great deals in a variety of ways to unsuspecting victims. One of the most popular means is through bogus apps promising great deals. However, this app is a Trojan horse that installs malware on the user’s device whenever they download it on their computer or phone. Once the malware is installed on their device it can do a variety of things like extracting sensitive information and passing it over to cybercriminals.
22. Gossip Scam
Social media pages are often filled with gossip stories like “Secrets about Michael Jackson’s death!” These scams play on people’s fascination with celebrity news. On clicking these ads, you will be taken to a page that asks to download the latest Adobe Flash. However, a bot Trojan or other malware gets downloaded to your system rather than the Flash player.
Social media companies are always on their toes trying to moderate their platform and keep them as clean as possible, Nonetheless, it can be very difficult to crack down on fraudsters who trick victims of their money and sensitive data. Staying vigilant with a healthy dose of doubt can help you spot most scams from a mile away. You need to be wary of unsolicited emails and investigate thoroughly if something seems out of place or too good to be true.