What Are Instagram Money Scams?
The current digital marketplace is ripe for scams. While in the past scammers needed to have charisma and the ability to lie in a believable way for people to fall in traps, nowadays, scammers can cheat people out of their money without showing their faces, and sometimes even without interacting with people. Instagram is one of the platforms that is a popular platform for fraud scams and attempts to get people to part with their money, either on the premise of receiving a service or for helping out a good cause.
Scams on Instagram occur when scammers either create fake accounts or hack into existing Instagram accounts you've followed. The scammers use these fake or hacked accounts to trick you into giving them money or your personal information.
These are some of the more common Instagram money scams:
Fake Aid Campaigns
Social media is a great way to raise money for charity. Many of these charities are opened after a specific disaster, be it the Australian wildfires or a food bank for victims of the coronavirus, celebrities and social activists alike post links to donation pages to help the world. While most celebrities share donation pages of legitimate organizations, there are people who take advantage of people's goodwill to make money themselves. Scammers may post a heartfelt plea to help those in need and then say you can donate to them via Venmo or Paypal, or they may even set up a go-fund-me page. It is important to only donate to legitimate accounts or to people you know and trust.
While lottery scams are not indigenous to Instagram, they are often used on the social media platform. A lottery scammer will impersonate a government agency or social media platform and will send you a message claiming that you have won a lottery and you will receive your winnings after paying an advance fee. They may also ask for personal details like your address and bank details. The rule to avoid this scam is if something is too good to be true it isn’t true. Never give your bank information on Instagram or to an account on Instagram lottery winners are not asked to pay to receive money.
Fake Brand Accounts
A popular scam on Instagram is also the imposter brand scam. According to a data analysis firm called Ghost Data, there are about 65 million fake fashion posts a year with nearly 20% of all posts about fashion products dealing with counterfeit products. Scammers will create an account that claims to retail luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and offer discounts and promotions in order to gain enough followers until they seem legitimate.
These accounts then usually use their follower base and ads to sell counterfeit products to unsuspecting buyers. Other accounts may take advantage of the holiday season sales and simply advertise a huge discount on products like drones or snowblowers, with the corresponding images being very high quality, but when you get the product in the mail, it can be a cheap Chinese knockoff. You can avoid this scam by only buying products from accounts with a verified blue checkmark or from a company you trust.
Romance scammers will prey on lonely individuals by sending them romantic messages. They will often use a heartbreaking backstory, perhaps pretending to be widowed, or divorced by a cheating husband. These scammers will attempt to gain your trust and begin an online relationship before asking for money. The way to avoid this scam is by only engaging in conversations with you people you know, and by never sending money to people you do not know, regardless if they seem needy.
Scammers may use the enticing promise of huge returns on investment in a short amount of time on relatively small amounts of money invested in order to get people into giving them money. Some of the different types of fraudulent investment scams to watch out for are "cash flipping" scams (give 100 dollars and get back 1,000 dollars), Ponzi schemes (scammers will pay back earlier investors with new investor money until they get a large amount of money and then disappear) or "get rich quick" schemes like making hundreds of dollars a day by doing surveys. .
A good rule of thumb in order to bypass these scams is to never send money to people you don’t know especially if they advertise unrealistic rewards that seem too good to be true.
Paid Subscription Scams
Scammers also utilize seemingly normal services like paid subscriptions in order to solicit money from Instagram users. They will often offer a one-time payment for a lifetime subscription of certain services. You will then either not get the service, or the service will not work. These are fairly common scams, yet hard to identify. Avoid purchasing subscription-based services from unknown third parties and only purchase services from providers that you know and trust.
How to Avoid Instagram Scams
Instagram has provided a list of things to watch out for in order to avoid scams on their platform. You should also report any scams you come across in order to prevent other unsuspecting people from falling for these tricks.
- People asking you for money who you don’t know in person.
- People asking you to send them money to receive a loan, prize or other winnings.
- Anyone asking you to pay a fee in order to apply for a job.
- Accounts representing large companies, organizations or public figures that are not verified.
- People claiming to be from Instagram security asking you to provide account information (like your username or password), or offering you account verification services.
- People asking you to move your conversation off Instagram to a less public or less secure setting, such as a separate email.
- People claiming to have a friend or relative in an emergency.
- People who misrepresent where they are located.
- Messages that appear to come from a friend or a company you know that ask you to click on a suspicious link.
- Messages or posts with poor spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- People or accounts asking you to claim a prize.