Social Media Scams Rack Up $2.7 Billion in Losses Since 2021, Reports FTC

In the digital age, social media has evolved into a double-edged sword. On one hand, it connects friends and family across the globe; on the other, it’s become a hotbed for scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has raised a red flag, stating that social media scams have reaped a staggering $2.7 billion in reported losses since 2021.

Social Media

Targeting Through Deception on Social Media

Scammers on social media utilize deceptive tactics. They create fake profiles, compromise real accounts, and dupe individuals into believing they’re trustworthy. By tailoring their approaches to glean personal information shared by users, they launch fraud schemes with precision.

Social media platforms often grant access to the vast treasure trove of user data. This wealth of information enables scammers to customize their approach—be it age, interests, or previous purchases. Such a tailored strategy helps them engage with potential victims seamlessly.

Online Shopping Scams on Social Media: A Rampant Issue

The first half of 2023 was marked by online shopping scams as the leading menace on social media. Shockingly, a staggering 44% of the complaints received by the FTC were related to fraudulent buying or selling of products. A common theme among these reports was consumers who never received the items they ordered, especially after clicking on ads found on platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

While online shopping scams are rampant, a more sinister threat loom. Fraudulent investment schemes promoted through social media. These scams account for a significant share of total losses, contributing to 53% of all the money siphoned by scammers in the first half of the year. Of particular concern is the growing role of cryptocurrency in these illicit activities, with more than half of the reports indicating that victims paid the fraudsters using digital currency.

Romance Scams Social Media: Love Turns into Losses

Among the fraudulent activities taking place on social media, romance scams ranked second in terms of reported losses. The stories of unsuspecting individuals falling for digital love interests, only to be scammed, are far from uncommon.

Protecting Yourself: FTC Recommendations

To shield oneself from these malicious activities, the FTC advises consumers to limit the visibility of their posts and direct messages. In particular, they recommend caution when receiving messages on social media from individuals claiming to be friends or relatives in urgent need of money. The agency emphasizes that direct phone contact is a safer approach in such situations.

The FTC’s report is a stark reminder of the evolving landscape of online threats. As scammers grow more sophisticated, the window for detection narrows. In response, online users must adopt vigilance and consider these recommendations to safeguard themselves in an era where virtual connections are invaluable but perilous.

For more news and updates on Cybersecurity, visit The Cybersecurity Club.

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