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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Social Media Scams
November 12, 2019

Social Media Scams

Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

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Social Media Scams

When we think of scams, many of us think of the famous “Nigerian Prince”. Most of us have heard of it and there are even jokes about it. Yet, it was very successful in its time. But, with our advancement and awareness comes the advancement of these attacks and attackers.  Social media scams are rapidly becoming more popular. Forbes states, “people who are active on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are 30% more likely to be victims of fraud due to increased exposure and information sharing.” 

Various social media scams utilize basic social engineering techniques to build rapport quickly. Techniques such as using sympathetic themes and open-ended questions, validating the target, and portraying selflessness are just a few techniques making these scams more believable.

Romance Scams

Romance scams are unique in that criminals prey on the target’s need for an emotional connection in order to execute the scam. The scammer will make contact with the target and try to establish a romantic connection with them. As the relationship progresses, the scammer will start finding ways to ask for money. To protect yourself from this scam, there are a few things you can do:

1. Be aware if someone seems “too perfect” in their pictures. You can do a reverse image search on to find out if the user is copying their personal profile pictures from the Internet.

2. Ask specific questions and be alert for any inconsistencies.

3. Be wary of those who always have an excuse as to why they cannot meet in person (constantly traveling, overseas, military) and constantly postpone plans to do so.

4. Above all, never send money to someone you have never met.

Social Phishing

Anyone can be caught off–guard by a social media phish. Last week, a friend received a direct message on Instagram from a close friend. It said, “I found something you might like” and had a link attached. Something didn’t feel right, so he asked if it was really from her. She said no and that she had received the same message from a friend—and that her account had been compromised when she clicked on the link.

This kind of attack is not specific to Instagram, though. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms have the same potential vulnerabilities. How can you protect yourself?

1. Be aware and wary. Keep an eye out for any wording or messages that seems unnatural.

2. Don’t click on links just because they were sent to you by a friend, inspect them first. 

3. Be wary of clicking on a link that contains extra letters and numbers in the URL

4. Keep in mind, you have no idea of a stranger’s motive for requesting to follow or connect with you. It is possible that they are completely innocent with no malicious intent. Just remember that allowing strangers to connect with you gives them access to whatever personal details your profile contains as well as the actions you perform, such as posting, liking, and commenting. 


If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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