Social media scams are scams that use a particular social media platform to defraud the users of that platform. Due to the almost universal use of social media, scammers have found it a helpful tool for scouting potential victims and for the propagation of their frauds. Also, scammers often use social media as the originating point for their schemes, this is done by paying for catchy ads and embedding them with links to the fraudulent schemes. Below are some common scams you are likely to come across on social media.
Money flipping scams from hijacked accounts. The scam starts with a scammer hijacking someone’s account. Once the account is under the full control of the scammer, the scammer does a post tagging most the friends of the hijacked account. The post is often about an investment such as forex or cryptocurrency that yields double of the capital invested.
Romance Scammers. Asides dating sites, social media is another tool for romance scammers. They create legitimate looking profiles to defraud those looking for love or relationships.
Influencer scam. Influencers are those on social media with a large following. Unfortunately, some of these individuals resort to less than worthy practices to monetize their followership. Influences have been caught promoting Ponzi scams and absconding with funds after asking their followers to invest in a business scheme.
Fake celebrity scam. A scammer impersonates a celebrity and does a post announcing a giveaway. The supposed “winners” are then contacted to redeem their prizes by paying a delivery fee for the item and supplying other information. Once the delivery fee is paid, the scammer blocks the victims, in some cases they sell the information pf the victims to other scammers. Another variant of this is when a scammer uses a fake celebrity profile to promote a Ponzi or investment fraud.
Fake Vendor scam. Scammers pose as vendors or service providers, once victims pay money for goods or services, they are blocked. Another variant of this is when a scammer impersonates a vendor or business on social media. Using the same logos and pictures as the legitimate vendors, they are able to defraud those who do a search on social media and land on the fake accounts.
Auction scams. Scammers impersonate government agencies and put-up posts about goods to be auctioned. A favorite for scammers is impersonating officers of the Nigeria Customs service. Often, you will come across profiles of Customs officials with posts about cars to be auctioned at prices way below their market value.
Steps For Protection
- Regularly check and update the privacy settings of your social media account. Limit who can see your posts, pictures and the information displayed on your profile.
- Be careful what you post about yourself and your activities, do not share personal information on social media.
- Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know or have not met in person.
- Use a strong password and set up two factor authentication.
- Do not partake in social media challenges and quizzes, especially those that ask questions that are personal.
- Always do a search using the profile or page name of the company on social media. If you see multiple accounts do not go ahead till you can figure out which, if any are genuine. Note that cybercriminals also seek out businesses that do not have a social media presence to impersonate, hence seeing only one account does not mean that it is genuine.
- Always confirm the social media handles of a business or organization which you intend to interact with via its website.
- Be wary of Investment offers being promoted on social media. Do not invest till you have sought advice from competent and certified investment professionals.
For more information on scams, download the NGFM Book of Scams.