Would One of These Social Media Scams Bamboozle You?

Social media plays an increasing role in both
the professional and personal sides of our lives. Unfortunately, this means that
we all experience an increase in exposure to the many scam attempts that will
appear on our screens. Like any kind of scam, the best defense against those
that appear on social media is good, old-fashioned awareness and vigilance.

Here, we’ll review the various scams that
frequently appear on social media to help you better identify problematic
content on your feeds. Many of these may not seem to apply to your business’
social media presence at first glance, but it is important to remember that
your personal social media and your professional representation on social media
are closely linked. As a result, a breach of your personal account could easily
put your business’ representation at risk as well.

Gossip Scams

PHOTOS of the celebrity that secretly lives in your area!” “You’d never believe
who DWAYNE JOHNSON spends his free time with!” “You’ll be SHOCKED to learn
which beloved ‘90s sitcom cast formed a blood cult!”

You’ve likely seen ads pop up on your Facebook
(or have had some of your connections share stories on their Newsfeeds) making
claims similar to these. People like to live vicariously through the
celebrities they admire, but these scams more often than not fool them into
downloading malware after visiting a page. Fortunately, avoiding these scams is
fairly simple - all you have to do is take in gossipy headlines with a grain of
salt and avoid downloading programs from anywhere but the actual source.

Nigerian Scam/Stuck Abroad Scam

Dearest Friend, I am Prince Akinola. During the recent uprising in my country,
my father was murdered in his sleep. To protect his riches, I seek a
trustworthy Person to help me transfer 3 million US dollars into an account for
a time. Helping me, you will be able to keep 35% of it to use as you see Fit.
Please reply to me immediately with your name and phone number so I can leave
this country and transfer the money to you.”

These scams are perhaps some of the most
famous, originally appearing in Nigeria but quickly spreading the world over.
Basically, instead of netting a large percentage of a fortune, the victim
usually is scammed out of their banking credentials or are asked to pay
“processing fees” before their “payment can be delivered.”

“I’m so
glad I got the chance to send this message. I’m overseas in Europe and my
wallet was stolen! I need $1,300 to get home. Could you wire over the money for

In the more personal version of the Nigerian
scam, a cybercriminal will hack into someone’s account and start spreading a
facetious sob story among their friends and relatives, hoping that someone will
wire money in an attempt to help. While we would all want to do anything, we
could for a friend, it is important to verify their story with them via some
other means of communication.

Lottery Scams/Who Viewed Your
Profile Scam/IQ Scam

A gift card worth $1500 is reserved for you!”

Wouldn’t it be nice, right? Quite a few of the
scams that appear on social media come up in the form of pop-up messages,
offering a generic prize in exchange for some personal information. Some will
ask for a mobile number so they can charge data fees from you, while others
will ask for your banking credentials to steal from you that way. While winning
anything like what these scams offer would be undeniably awesome, you can’t win
a contest that you didn’t enter.

“Want to know who’s been looking at your
profile? Install this application to find out.”

One of the reasons that social media is so
popular is the fact that many people use it as a popularity litmus test - how
often have you posted something, only to be disappointed when so few of your
followers reacted to it… or perhaps more did than your notifications would
indicate? Scammers leverage this curiosity as a means of weaponizing fake links
that claim to provide a list of people who have viewed their target’s profile,
but actually only steal their data.

“Your IQ
evaluation is finished. We’ll need a few more details to calculate your score,
including your age and phone number.”

These kinds of plugins and applications seem
to be a dime a dozen on social media, especially on Facebook. Somewhat
ironically, these scams can actually test your intelligence… you just have to
wonder how your phone number would factor into measuring your smarts. Here’s a
hint: it doesn’t. These evaluations are typically just a means of getting your
phone number so the persons responsible can start charging you.

Account Cancelled Scam

“We are
writing you to confirm the account cancellation request that your submitted. To
confirm or cancel this cancellation request, please link click below. Thank
you, The Facebook Team”

If you receive a message or email from
“Facebook” claiming to have received an account cancellation request from you
(which you didn’t send), chances are that it is simply someone trying to direct
you to a fraudulent login page so they can steal your information. Check the
email address that the message came from and keep an eye out for any improper
grammar or misspellings. The real Facebook can afford to hire copy editors to
make sure their messages are properly composed.

Photo of You Scam

“Oh my
god! LOL is this actually a photo of you?”

Some scammers like to replicate another user’s
profile and will then try and scam the connections of the original page by
sharing a link through an intriguing message, claiming to have a photo of them
that needs to be seen. In actuality, this link will only provide the scammer
with your information. Try not to click on any links that don’t seem quite
right and consider setting your personal profile to private to prevent anyone
who isn’t already connected to you from reaching out.

Catfishing/Romance Scams

baby, I can’t wait to meet you, but I can’t quite swing the money for the
ticket… could you send some cash to help me cover it? Looking forward to
meeting in person.”

Ah, romance… it only makes sense that it
contributes to one of the most effective online scams there is. According to
the Federal Trade Commission, 2018 saw more than 21,000 reported romance scams,
claiming a total of $143 million. These totals make catfishing scams one of the
most effective means for scammers to make a quick buck. In fact, the median
loss to one of these scams in 2018 was $2,600 - seven times the median loss of
any of the other fraud types.

If you suspect you may be being catfished, try
doing a reverse image search for the profile picture the person on the other
end provided. If the images are also associated with another profile, you’re
likely being targeted by a scammer. Don’t send money to anyone you haven’t met
in person, and don’t be afraid to lean on those in your life who you know and
trust for their two cents.

While social media can be a great business tool, it isn’t without its dangers - and even the more personal risks can spill over to affect your business. For other means of protecting your organization from threats, reach out to us at 859-746-1030.