As internet and social media traffic are more common than ever, there are scores of people attempting to take advantage of that. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are often the common places these scams show up. Posts circulate, attempting to find the most gullible users in order to take advantage of them. These posts often promote some sort of winnings or giveaways, such as free flights or a free RV. These offers seem too good to be true, and that is because they are. Another example of the scams on these sites include fake profiles who will attempt to connect with you, or threats to close your account unless you share personal information. These scams are attempting to take advantage of you and steal things such as your identity or your funds. There are many precautions you can take in order to avoid scam posts such as these and keep yourself and your account secure.

One specific scam that is common and has recently been going around is an opportunity to win a free flight to a destination of your choice. For example, a fake account, claiming to be Southwest Airlines, offering free flights. “The airline warned that a Facebook page claiming to be run by the carrier is fake and that people shouldn’t provide it with any personal information. Southwest debunked the fraudulent page on Facebook by sharing a photo of the profile called “Southwest Air” with the words “scam alert” on it. The fake page made a post claiming that all of the airline’s flights are operating 24/7 and that it wants to show appreciation to loyal customers by giving away 500 free roundtrip flights to any destination” (https://sports.yahoo.com/southwest-airlines-warns-customers-free-153700981.html?src=rss). There are many ways to distinguish a fake account from the real one. Things such as how many followers it has, the name of the account, whether or not it is a verified account, and the content itself. If the page has a low number of followers or likes, especially if the company or person it is claiming to be is very well known, that is an immediate red flag. Another thing to keep an eye out for is whether or not the account is verified. Social media platforms have a verification system that an account needs to go through in order to be proven as real. Keep an eye out for that verification on any accounts you see, especially of high-profile companies or people, in order to make sure you are looking at the official account. Due to quarantine and people having been stuck in their houses for a long time, scams such as this, that offer a chance to get out of the house, seem very inviting. Another example of this are offers of a free RV by fake pages. Similarly, these offers are coming from unofficial accounts, pretending to be well known RV and vehicle companies. Often, these accounts are attempting to farm likes or followers. “A user creates a fake giveaway to get lots of likes on one page. They then sell the page on the internet’s black market. A page with 100,000 likes goes for $1,000, according to some tech experts” (https://www.khou.com/article/features/trending-today/facebook-contest-scam-likes-shares-rv-tiny-homes/531-f5a2b1d1-4aeb-4f41-9356-fc9f76c1ee61).

More personal scams include accounts of fake people attempting to friend you. These are quite simple to avoid. If you get a friend request on your social media and you don’t know the person, don’t accept it. Sometimes, however, these fake accounts will take the name of someone you do know, in an attempt to be even more convincing. Often, these pages will only have a few photos, and will only have been made a few days before the friend request. These are red flags that they are not actually your friend, and instead are someone attempting to get access to your private page and information. With scams such as those, it is always better to be safe than sorry, and to trust your instinct. Another more personal scam is one claiming that one of your posts has infringed copyright and your account will be deleted because of that. This is currently circulating on Instagram, where users are receiving a message claiming this, with a link to refute the infringement in order to keep their account. “It reads: ‘Hello Dear Instagram User! A copyright violation has been detected in a post on your account. If you think copyright infringement is wrong, you should provide feedback. Otherwise, your account will be closed within 24 hours. You can give feedback from the link below. Thank you for your understanding.’ The message then includes a link to a fake Instagram site, where users are urged to hand over personal details” (https://standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001375622/instagram-scam-threatens-to-close-your-account). The account attempts to appear as official as possible, using things such as Instagram’s official address, and an account name that implies they are the technical support on the site. Another red flag is that users are urged to hand over personal information on the link that claims it is purely to refute a copyright infringement. Keeping an eye out for red flags such as these and trusting your instinct can mean the difference between a safe and secure account, and a stolen identity or a loss of your money.

With a majority of the world on several social media sites, these scams have the potential to devastate hundreds if not thousands of people. However, keeping an eye out for red flags, and trusting your instinct can help keep you and those around you safe from being taken advantage of.

Tagged on: