Social media has become an increasingly popular tool among fraudsters in recent years, which is bad news for those of us who visit the platforms. AND new report from the Federal Trade Commission released this week called social media a “gold mine for fraudsters”, reminding us all of the guiding principle we should live by: Don’t trust anyone online.
According to the FTC, social media fraud has risen at an alarming rate over the past five years, making up about $ 770 million in reported losses in 2021, staggering an eighteen-fold increase over 2017, which saw a loss of $ 42 million. Last year, the agency received more than 95,000 reports of fraud launched on social media in various categories, including investment fraud, love fraud and online shopping fraud.
Investment fraud (37%) and love fraud (24%) were the most profitable for fraudsters among those reported. (Any deception is, of course, an evil deed, but those who use romance for deception are truly heartless).
In investment scams, individuals reach out to users on social media with promising bogus investment opportunities large returns, sometimes imitating the victim friends to make them send money. Cryptocurrency fraud has increased, which unfortunately not a surprise given their own boom of popularity.
Then there are romantic scams, a category of scams also at a record level, which consist of exactly what their name suggests.
“More than a third of people who said they lost money to online love scams in 2021 said it started on Facebook or Instagram,” said the FTC. “These scams often begin with a seemingly innocent request for friendship from a stranger, followed by a sweet story, and then, inevitably, a request for money.”
Online shopping was another significant category of fraud in the agency’s report. Although not as profitable as the other types of scams mentioned above, it is the fraud that people most reported to the FTC, accounting for 45% of reported losses. The victims of these scams bought something on social media – Facebook and Instagram were the most cited platforms – but never got the purchase.
In general, the FTC data show that social media scammers made more money in 2021 than any other way to reach people.
On social media, in the agency, there are many things that would be liked by fraudsters he stated. First of all, it’s a cheap way to reach billions of people around the world. It’s also easy to lie about who and what their intentions are, and they can even hack the profiles of your connections on social media and thus try to extort money from you. We also share too much about ourselves online, which allows fraudsters to study users ’personal information to better target their scheme.
“Scammers trying to get your money are always looking for new ways to reach people. And they will use everything they know about you to target their offer, ”said Rosario Méndez, part of the agency’s Consumer and Business Education Department, in blog post.
Aside from being wary of content and the people you interact with on social media, there are some other good practices you can adopt. Some recommendations from the FTC include restricting who can see your posts and information on social media, giving up targeted advertising if possible, and inviting friends who ask you for money on social media to confirm that it really is them.
If you do fall victim to social media scams, don’t panic. There are ways to possibly get your money back. To be sure, stay away from investing, romance and shopping in companies you have never heard of before.