Scammers on social media have raked in at least $770 million

28th January, 2022.      //   Crime  // 

According to a new report from the Federal Trade Commission, the last year has been a boom for social media scammers. In 2021, the agency estimates that over 95,000 consumers lost $770 million to scammers who discovered them on social media networks. That’s more than quadruple the $258 million that scammers are said to have gotten off with in the year 2020.

Although the research doesn’t go into detail about why the number of scams increased so much in 2021, it does say that the number of scams reported has “soared” in the last five years. It also claims that “bogus cryptocurrency investments” have seen a “huge increase” in frauds, accounting for approximately $285 million — more than a third — of the $770 million lost last year.

Romance scams have also “climbed to record highs in recent years,” according to the report. “These scams often start with a seemingly innocent friend request from a stranger, followed by sweet talk, and then, inevitably, a request for money,” the FTC says. Also prevalent are scams related to online shopping, most of which involve “undelivered goods” that were purchased as the result of an ad on social media.

Of note, Facebook and Instagram are the only two platforms named in the report. “More than a third of people who said they lost money to an online romance scam in 2021 said it began on Facebook or Instagram,” the report states. Likewise, the FTC says that Facebook and Instagram were the most commonly cited platform for reports of undelivered good, with the two apps cited in 9 out of 10 reports where a service was identified.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Meta said, “We spend significant resources towards addressing this kind of fraud and abuse.” “We don’t only delete and suspend accounts, Pages, and advertisements. When we can, we take legal action against those who are culpable, and we constantly encourage people to report this type of activity.”

Users should try to avoid targeted advertising as much as possible, according to the FTC, because scammers can “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,” according to the agency. Users should also be wary of any messages asking for money, especially in the form of cryptocubes.

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