Social Media Fraud in simple terms is a criminal activity designed to lure users into spending money on phoney goods and services or their private/personal details. “Many investors use the Internet and social media to help them with investment decisions. While these online tools can provide many benefits for investors, these same tools can make attractive targets for criminals. Criminals are quick to adapt to new technologies – and the Internet is no exception.” – U.S Securities and Exchange Commission. (investor.gov) It is almost impossible to discuss social media and fraud in 2020 and years to come without addressing impacts of the Covid 19 global pandemic on the industry.
With many businesses changing their operations modules, individuals working from home, online and social media usage and marketing at an all-time high, criminals have adapted too. Unethical cyber practices like access to private/personal information, defrauding of unsuspecting social media users, sales of defective products, false advertisements and many more have spiked to overwhelming proportions. Much as social media is by-far the easiest and most cost effective way to disseminate information to a humongous amount of people, this does not come without shortcomings! Spread of alternative facts also known as fake news, nudity, human rights and privacy violations and many more have become the new normal.
Social Media and Fraud.
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and many more have become a huge part of our day-to-day lives and it is almost impossible to imagine life without these platforms and this makes us easy prey of the ever growing fraud-Pool. Discussed below are some of the various forms of fraud in relation to social media
1. Phoney Investment Opportunities.
Over the years, various “investment opportunities” have found their way into people’s timelines, news letters, inboxes and comment sections. Fraudsters have developed apps and websites tricking unsuspecting social media users into signing-up, reviewing products & services, doing small tasks, playing games, participating in surveys and going as far as referring their friends and family to sign-up too all with the allure of payment and
rewards in tickets, freebies, coupons, cryptocurrency or even cash!
Exhibit A: Google Play Store and other auxiliary app stores like Mobogenie, Tom’s Guide, Softonic and many more have a vast array of cryptocurrency faucets that promise to reward users in crypto when they download the apps, play a few games, refer new clients and more – unsurprisingly these rewards never come even after hitting all targets. These apps include: Paid-To-Click, CoinPot, CoinPay, Cryptofarm etc.
2. Targeted Ads and E-Commerce Scams
Much as there are tones of of products and services on sale by small and medium business enterprises on social media, navigating to find genuine sellers is an everyday task. Fraudsters have exploited this uncertainty and created professionally convincing and appealing marketing material to lure social media users to “buy” from them. Most products and services which usually happen to be fake, defective or of way lower standards yet advertised and sold as the real deal. A good example are the various ads on Facebook groups talking about internet bundles being sold at a fraction
of the price ISPs offer. These usually turn out to be cons and every single day, a new social media user falls for the same scam.
3. Social Quizzes
Online questionnaires and quizzes promising to reveal to a user fun facts and interesting information like personality type, celebrity look-alike or give out too-good-to-be-true prizes usually come with hidden threats. They usually include terms of usage and conditions which allow the data entered to be sold to third parties. The app developers obtain a lot of information about the user from their profile, friends and IP address.
As an avid social media user, you already know what their official email notifications look like. However, often phony notifications may look almost exactly the same. These emails are designed to find access to personal data and gain access to a user’s social network account. This kind of phishing is a lot similar to corporate email phishing schemes where a user receives a notification allegedly sent from a social network claiming that someone left a message or wants to be added as a friend, or update account information. When a user clicks on the link, instead of taking them to the official site, they are led to a fraudulent website that looks exactly like the real thing. Once log-in details are entered, they are sent to the scammers, before being redirected to the official website.
5. Winnings and Freebies Fraud.
Often there are posts on social media claiming to give out free gift cards to popular stores like Amazon, Alibaba, Jumia or announcing that you’ve won products like iPhone, VR Gear, cars, clothing, accessories etc. When you click on them, you’re taken to a site that asks you to enter your information to claim your winnings. The information they ask for may vary. They could ask for your phone number to secretly charge you in data fees. Some may require your banking information in order to wire you money, which they end up stealing from you instead.
Designed with Mobirise