Young people are targets and victims as Instagram users hit one billion: Internet Scambusters #854
There's no doubting the success of social media site Instagram.
But just like its parent company, Facebook, success also draws in scammers like bees to honey.
In this week's issue, we outline the latest Instagram scams and signpost where you can find information on how to deal with them.
Let's get started...
Fake Giveaways, Jobs, Followers and More Among Latest Instagram Scams
It's just a coincidence that the name of the photo-sharing social media site Instagram rhymes with "scam" but the link is certainly appropriate.
As the popularity of the site -- owned by Facebook -- has grown, so has the incidence of scams.
Last year, the site claimed to have a billion users worldwide, up 25% on the previous year, and compared with the 150 million when we last wrote about Instagram scams.
That makes an awful lot of targets for the crooks to aim for.
In fact, a recent report in the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, claimed losses from scams jumped by 700% compared with the prior six months. The majority of the victims were young people.
So, if you're a user or thinking of joining, here are the top 5 biggest Instagram scams.
1. Giveaways and Jobs
Scammers set up accounts in the name of non-existent companies then post mouthwatering free gift or job offers. They often disguise their fraud by claiming to be associated with well-known brand names.
The scam may serve several different purposes such as asking for personal information or bank account details for identity theft or asking victims to pay up-front for processing or security checks.
Action: Look out for Instagram's blue verification checkmark next to the company's name -- though that doesn't guarantee security. Don't give information or money to individuals or organizations you don't know or haven't thoroughly checked out.
2. Fake Followers
Every so often, you get a message saying a person you've never heard of is now following you on Instagram.
They could be genuinely interested in some of your posts, which can be publicly seen unless you altered your privacy settings, but chances are high they're scammers looking to establish a relationship, such as an online friendship or romance.
Action: Don't follow them back. Unless you can see a genuine reason for allowing them to follow you, block them. How? Go to your profile, click on "followers," identify the person, click or tap on the name, and when you reach their profile, select "block user" from the drop-down menu.
3. Phony Security Messages
There are several different fake security messages purporting to come from Instagram making the rounds at the moment.
In one, users receive a message warning that their account may have to be deleted for security reasons if they don't repost and tag the same message.
Then, of course, all your followers will see the message and be tempted to do the same thing.
It seems to be some sort of weird form of a chain letter, though the accompanying tag may be aimed at garnering new followers.
In another variation, users are warned they must sign on again for security reasons using a supplied link. This takes them to a fake sign-on page where their details will be stolen.
Action: This trick has been around for a while and has recently resurfaced. Ignore these security messages. If you're concerned about your account validity, visit instagram.com and sign in there to check your details.
4. We Pay You
We've written previously about influencers -- people who make a living by collecting huge numbers of followers and then promoting items they get for free or even with additional payment.
This is a lucrative business many people would like to get in on, so when they see an ad offering payment in return for posting positive comments about a product, they may jump at the chance.
The scammer likely will next ask for bank details so payment can be made directly.
We all know what happens next -- the victim's bank account is drained.
Action: Any firm or individual advertising payment like this is unlikely to be legit. That's not how influencing works. And unless you have tens or even hundreds of thousands of followers, you're unlikely to be of interest to legitimate firms.
5. Investment Scams
The Daily Telegraph report referred to earlier claims that young people, including some in their mid-teens, are being lured into handing over cash for dubious and complex investments known as "binary options."
They're hooked by posts seemingly from individuals who appear to be living the high life after making a fortune from this legitimate but complex and risky investment tool.
In other cases, they're promised easy money by trading prepaid debit cards.
Action: There's no such thing as easy money except for scammers and the occasional stroke of luck. Wise investors know this. Join them!
If you're an Instagram, user, we strongly recommend you visit the site's privacy and safety center.
Alert of the Week
Free pizzas? We think not. Social media sites including Instagram are being targeted by scammers offering fake coupons for three free pizzas per person at Little Caesars, supposedly to mark the firm's 60th anniversary.
Instead of pizzas, people who click on the coupon link will be downloading malware onto their PCs. Not very tasty!
Time to close today, but we'll be back next week with another issue. See you then!