Reports received by the Federal Trade Commission have found US citizens were scammed to the tune of $770m through social media cons during 2021.
According to Bleeping Computer, the FCC revealed that 95,000 consumers lost the $770m overall – which amounts to around a quarter of all the losses to fraud reported in 2021, more than doubling compared to 2020.
The FTC said, “More than one in four people who reported losing money to fraud in 2021 said it started on social media with an ad, a post, or a message. In fact, the data suggest that social media was far more profitable to scammers in 2021 than any other method of reaching people.
“It’s a low-cost way to reach billions of people from anywhere in the world. It’s easy to manufacture a fake persona, or scammers can hack into an existing profile to get ‘friends’ to con.”
The social media scams found to be most profitable were those that promoted false investment opportunities, with over half of reports last year mentioning money and cryptocurrency lost to promises of huge financial returns.
Romance scams were found to be the second most profitable fraud on social media, with the most significant number of scam reports linked to social media were delivered by people who lost money to online shopping scams where marketed products were not delivered.
The FTC added, “In nearly 70% of these reports, people said they placed an order, usually after seeing an ad, but never got the merchandise. Some reports even described ads that impersonated real online retailers that drove people to lookalike websites.”
The most popular social media platforms amongst scammers were found to be Facebook and Instagram.
The FTC shared a number of tips to help users getting scammed on social media. This included limiting who can see your posts and information on social media, check if you can opt-out of targeting advertising, read more about romance scams, never send money to someone you haven’t met in person and check out a company before you buy.
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