February 29, 2024

Social media scams have been seriously out of control lately. As per the data, over $2.7 billion dollars was lost to social media fraud in the US between 2021 and mid-2023. According to the FTC, that surpasses losses from regular web scams and email phishing COMBINED. Wild, right?

These crooks keep honing in new tactics to sucker us in and steal our cash. One nasty trick is targeted ads built off our personal info, buying habits, age – anything that gets us to click. Teens and young adults especially got slammed, with FTC reports skyrocketing every year. As online safety guru David McClellan says, our social addiction makes us vulnerable. However, we uncovered some eye-opening facts about how these scams operate. If knowledge is power, it’s time to tackle this issue head-on!

Join us on a hard-hitting dive into current social media scamming statistics. Together, we’ll unpack the psychology behind these dodgy attacks, break down the latest cunning techniques, and arm you with tools to outsmart the scammers. Stick with me – your bank account will thank you later.

Social Media Scamming Statistics

  1. Roughly 90% of data breaches are caused by Phishing scams.
  2. 30% of respondents in a survey reported falling victim to job scams on social media.
  3. Also, 12% of folks reported clicking on phishing URLs on social media platforms. 
  4. Of teenagers and young adults, about 85% fell prey to shopping scams.
  5. Victims of inheritance scams lost more than $200,000 in 2022.
  6. Roughly 16% of social media victims fall for imposter scams (account cloning).
  7. Lottery scams are also common among older people (aged 50 and above), as 75% of victims belonged to the age group.
  8. Many investment scams (up to 50%) happen via social media platforms like Instagram, telegram, and Facebook.
  9. Civil Society UK indicated more than 44% was lost to charity scams in 2022, higher than the previous year.
  10. Romance scams (25%) are a popular method scammers utilize on social media.
  11. According to organization reports, $1.5 billion was lost due to influencer scams.

Types of Social Media Scams

1. In a Good-firms Survey, 30% of People Reported Falling Prey to Online Job Scams Via Social Media.

Individuals looking for employment are at high risk, as they’re every scammer’s target—especially those willing to get the job by any means. The scammers exploit vulnerable job seekers by deceiving them into paying for sham employment opportunities. Sometimes, they ask them to pay under the guise of helping with job searches. They come with many illusive tactics to steal money, which include application fees, purported security deposits, and payment for non-existent high positions.

Also, these fraudsters can use fake email addresses that mimic legal communication from employment agencies. This adds a layer of deceit to their schemes. They pose as employers or recruiters, aiming to extract money and personal information from their victims. Later, they will use the information they acquired for fraudulent activities, such as applying for credit cards or securing loans in the candidate’s name. Furthermore, the high demand rate for the work-from-home trend following the COVID-19 outbreak has provided scammers more opportunities to exploit job seekers. Using this trend, they disseminate fake job postings, worsening the risks naive employment seekers face.

2. 12% of Victims Clicked on Phishing URLs on Social Media.

In social media, scammers arrange phishing scams, enticing unsuspecting individuals to click on suspicious links that either steal their information or infect their devices with harmful viruses. These deceptive links redirect users to external websites or webpages, designed to closely resemble legitimate sites with subtle visual alterations, thereby tricking the visitor. While social media serves as just one avenue for phishing attacks among several others, it accounts for approximately 12% of instances where victims fall prey to phishing URLs

They target those who are unaware of using URLs. This happens most times via text messages, emails, etc. Scammers use these phishing schemes to dupe customers and trick them into revealing sensitive data like usernames and passwords. As a result, the scammers can access the customers’ personal or financial credentials. By employing keyword-based marketing strategies, numerous phishing scams strategically heighten the likelihood of visitors clicking on malicious links, thereby escalating the risk to individuals encountering such schemes.

3. Victims Lost Over $200,000 to an Inheritance Scam in 2022.

Numerous social media posts entice users with grand promises of inheritance, and 98% of these posts are scams. Scammers often pose as lawyers or attorneys, claiming to be representatives of wealthy foreigners who died without willing their wealth to their families.

According to the purported lawyer, the estate’s executor must share the same last name as the deceased. After formally transferring property ownership to the victim’s name, the scammer demands a hefty portion of the supposed inheritance. In reality, there is no inheritance or valuable property. They pressure their victims into paying upfront legal fees (their intention) for the promised funds.

With this, numerous folks will contribute money, hoping to claim this alleged estate, which causes them to fall into the scammer’s set trap. Operating under the guise of inheriting substantial wealth, including valuable items like gold or money, the con artists coerce victims into covering purported legal expenses to access these assets. By maintaining contact via phone calls, emails, and social media, the scammers continue communicating with the victims until the funds are transferred. Once the victim sends the agreed-upon money, the scammers vanish. Reported incidents in 2022 indicated that victims collectively lost over $200,000 due to these fraudulent schemes.

4. About 16% of Victims Also Reported Falling Prey to Imposter Scams on Social Media.

Social media scams frequently involve imposters posing as trusted entities like government agencies, friends, or businesses. With this, the scammers deceive individuals into revealing their bank details/ personal details or sending money to them. This scamming tactic is commonly called account cloning or impersonation. Afterward, the scammers will imitate their victim’s identity, utilizing their name, profile picture, (passport) and personal data to create a social media account (fake account). With these cloned accounts, they will send friend requests to the victim’s network of friends, family, and acquaintances.

Once accepted, the scammers will start a conversation, pretending to be the victim. These scammers plan to borrow money under the victim’s name or learn sensitive information they might utilize for wary financial activities. Many Celebrities usually fall victim to imposter scams.

Scammers create cloned accounts using handles like @official or @fanpage, mimicking the official profiles. A reliable precautionary measure involves checking for verification badges (such as the blue tick on Facebook or Twitter) to confirm the account’s legitimacy and prevent interactions with imposters. Currently, Imposter scamming is increasingly prevalent. Government impersonators, false acquaintances posing as family or friends, and business-related scams constitute a significant portion of these scams. Collectively, it contributes to around 16% of social media scams.

5. Over 84% of Young Adults are More Liable to Fall Prey to Shopping Scams Than Older Folks.

Scammers are taking advantage of the surging popularity of social commerce to exploit people, especially teenagers and young adults. They use discounts or cost savings on purchase promises to win their victim over. Also, the fraudsters pose as a reputable business with an online store to reach social media users. They deceive folks by accepting only’ payments before delivery’ without fulfilling the orders. Essentially, swindling customers rather than conducting legitimate sales transactions.

As per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), teenagers and young adults face an 85% higher likelihood of falling victim to these scams than older demographics. Furthermore, the creation of social commerce and the development of trust in online shopping platforms indirectly give online shopping scams more grounds. Therefore, it’s important to note that numerous fraudulent websites and sophisticated techniques exist online. Consequently, consumers find it challenging to discern between genuine and fraudulent sales. 

6. 75% of Lottery Scams Were Reported by Older People (50 and Above).

Lottery scams are another popular scam on social media. It’s a different type of social media deception. This scam involves scammers luring people with promises of prizes or lottery winningsMaking them mistakenly disclose their details to them or probably pay a fee to collect the prize. The main concept here revolves around convincing individuals to purchase fake lottery tickets, purportedly offering huge cash rewards.

Once the money gets into the scammer’s pocket, it vanishes, leaving the purchasers with empty/fake promises. Also, the fraudsters can show the victim counterfeit lottery tickets that resemble an authentic scheme. They deceive such a person into believing they’ve won huge money. Moreover, these fraudsters are very smart; they add numbers or barcodes to tickets to enhance the authenticity of their deception. Compared to younger folks, various older folks have become prey to this scam. The FTC report stated that roughly one-third of scams reported by people over 50 were related to lotteries or sweepstakes.

7. Over 50% of Investment Scams Often Occur Via Social Media Platforms via Direct Message Alternatives.

Frequently, investment scams exploit social media direct messaging platforms, especially when the targets are susceptible people with pitches that boast doubtful claims. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram are gateways to investment scams (according to 50% of victims). The scammer lures victims by showing a “get-rich-quick” set-up, especially by promising unusually high investment returns.

Ponzi schemes, one of the most widespread investment frauds, cunningly masquerades as legitimate investment prospects. They mainly target new investors searching for speedy and substantial profits. They also target folks aiming to grow their retirement or savings. The scammers showcase promises of extensive rewards or remarkably high returns, but they’ll vanish once they receive the victim’s deposit. They remove all traces or links to their social media accounts, making them utterly inaccessible and leaving the victims confused and devastated.

8. The UK’s Civil Society Said There Was a 44% Increase in Money Lost to Charity Scams in 2022 Compared to the Previous Year.

The charity scam antics performed by scammers on social media don’t target only legitimate companies trying to make a good impression. They also trick folks who want to contribute to a good cause. Fraudsters perpetrating these scams often act as agents of respected charities on social platforms.

They convince people to donate for noble purposes. However, the money ends up in their own pockets. In 2022, over $2 million was lost to charity scams. This figure marked a 44% increase from the prior year, as disclosed by the Civil Society, UK. The scammers employ various dubious tactics to mimic genuine charity homes. Some of their methods include utilizing visually appealing designs and logos and acquiring tax exemption certificates that make them appear more legal.

They rapidly circulate across social media, which exposes them to various potential victims. Moreover, these charity scams have tarnished the image of legitimate organizations that rely on public trust and support to fulfill their missions. You might be wary of all charities if you’ve fallen victim to such a scam. Also, genuine assemblies couldn’t raise the funds for their crucial work. For safety purposes against social media charity fraud, individuals should research and verify a charity’s legitimacy before donating. Also, highlight the well-known, reputable organizations and exercise caution, especially when they start demanding instant donations.

Type of Indirect Scams on Social Media

9. Over 25% of Scams on Social Media are Romance Scams.

Romance scams are getting popular on social media platforms. In this scam, fraudsters target folks desperately searching for love and commitment. The scammers use their desire for affection to steal from them.

With a fictitious profile on popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the scammers captivate gullible people into relationships. Once the victim falls in love with them, the scammer will convince the victim to send them gifts or money as a sign of commitment. According to a report, 25% of victims preyed on romance scams. Some respondents in a survey said that the scammer posed as an affluent woman on social media and initiated contact with them. She claimed inheritance from departed guardians and needed money to go abroad for safety

Other respondents said the scammer wanted to settle down with a sympathetic folk outside their home country. They came with reasons like war, an abusive spouse, or threats to their safety. Additionally, romance scammers primarily target lonely or divorced men. They lure their victims into paying fees for transferring money between banks, insisting that the charges must be in the destination country’s currency. They utilize psychological tactics, like building emotional connections before cunning stealing significant sums from the victims. Typically, romance scams link with religion and passion. Scammers present themselves as earnest people, portraying religious beliefs so victims believe they’re trustworthy.

10. Globally, Organizations Fell Prey to Influencer Scams in 2022 and Lost $1.5 Billion.

Influencer scam is very unanticipated. Many individuals and companies fall prey to this type of scam. The self-declared influencers (scammers) on social media draw victims’ attention through many methods. They usually disguise themselves by living a fake/stylish lifestyle.

The scammers also buy likes, comments, and fake followers to deceive people. They ask their victims to purchase products using a personalized URL, enticing them with massive discounts. Also, followers can misguidedly purchase counterfeit or replica products via a URL redirection to fickle product sites

This social media scam can affect individuals, genuine influencers, and companies. In 2022, companies universally lost nearly $1.5 billion to influencer scams. This encircles losses to fake ad traffic, scam influencers, and phony leads. Nowadays, it’s very easy to buy fake followers on social media. It makes it easy for scammers to magnify their surface popularity. On the other hand, scammers with many fake followers have made it challenging for victims to detect their genuineness.

Additional Stats

11. Young demographics, like teens and adolescents, are more prone to job and get-rich-quick scams. 

12. Equally, technology-supported scams usually aim at older folks, manipulating their susceptibilities.

13. A dominant form of treachery includes scammers posing as social media influencers, defrauding or stealing from numerous people yearly. 

14. Furthermore, inheritance scams lure people into paying entrée fees to access a made-up inheritance.

15. A recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report discloses that social media scams aggregate an overwhelming cost of roughly $117 million in 2020. 

16. Moreover, the average financial loss per person due to these scams reached $200, with the most extensive single loss surpassing $1 million that year.

Conclusion

Given these statistics on social media scams, it’s crucial to note that this distressing trend is causing financial and psychological harm to individuals and organizations. Scammers utilize social media platforms as leverage to defraud folks (both old and young). They fool people into donating money to fictional worthy causes by assuming fake identities. As social media grows in popularity, it provides scammers with sufficient prospects to function and harass gullible people.

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