Social media scammers made a killing in 2021, raking in at least $770 million
That’s more than double the $258 million scammers made off with in 2020.
Social media scammers are raking the cash in. According to a new report from the FTC, scammers made off with $770 million in 2021 via social media platforms.
That’s more than double the $258 million they made in 2020. And, in reality, the number is probably much larger, as many people are probably embarrassed to report being scammed out of their hard-earned money.
So what’s the most significant driving factor behind these scams? I’m going to let you take a wild guess. I’ll wait.
If you guessed crypto scams, pat yourself in the back. The agency says there’s a “massive surge” centered around “bogus cryptocurrency investments,” accounting for more than a third of the $770 million stolen last year.
Another tactic gaining traction is romance scams. I’ve never heard of these, but the report states, “These scams often start with a seemingly innocent friend request from a stranger, followed by sweet talk, and then, inevitably, a request for money.” Facebook and Instagram are the most commonly used platforms for scams.
“We put significant resources towards tackling this kind of fraud and abuse,” a spokesperson for Meta said in a statement. “We also go beyond suspending and deleting accounts, Pages, and ads. We take legal action against those responsible when we can and always encourage people to report this behavior when they see it.”
So how does one protect themselves from any of these scams? For starters, the FTC recommends users opt-out of targeted advertising whenever possible.
The agency warns that scammers “easily use the tools available to advertisers on social media platforms to systematically target people with bogus ads based on personal details such as their age, interests, or past purchases.”
The FTC outlined some tips in its report to help you avoid social media scams:
- Limit who can see your posts and information on social media. All platforms collect information about you from your activities on social media, but visit your privacy settings to set some restrictions.
- Check if you can opt out of targeted advertising. Some platforms let you do that.
- If you get a message from a friend about an opportunity or an urgent need for money, call them. Their account may have been hacked – especially if they ask you to pay by cryptocurrency, gift card, or wire transfer. That’s how scammers ask you to pay.
- If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down. Read about romance scams. And never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
- Before you buy, check out the company. Search online for its name plus “scam” or “complaint.”
But really, the best advice is if someone on the internet is asking you for money, in most cases, it’s probably a scam. Especially if they’re asking for the money in the form of cryptocurrency or gift cards. Do yourself a favor and don’t fall for it.
- Scammers are stealing checks from mailboxes and turning them into Bitcoin
- Phony QR codes are being used by scammers to steal money from parking meters
- T-Mobile claims to have blocked 21 billion scam calls in 2021
- PSA: Scammers are using bogus job ads to steal people’s identity