Social media scams continue to increase

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

One question everyone wants answered when it comes to scams and fraud is where is the greatest risk. When people are bombarded by criminals on email, over the phone, text and online, it’s hard to know where to focus. And while it’s important to take every scam attempt seriously, consumers should realize that they are particularly susceptible on social media.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 25% of successful scams last year originated on a social media platform. In 2017, consumers lost $42 million to social media scams. That total was $770 million last year – an 18-fold increase.

Here are three warning signs of social media scams.

• Friend requests from people you don’t know. Think of your parents when surfing the web and “don’t talk to strangers.”

• Celebrities who want to connect with you. Scammers clone celebrity profiles and send personal messages offering investment opportunities or a chance to meet in person. This is a very successful criminal tactic so just remember, celebrities don’t really want to be your online friend.

• Anyone offering investment opportunities. Cryptocurrency scams are exploding, and they typically start when an online “friend” offers up an investment opportunity. Anytime someone you met online says “investment” or “crypto” it’s time to walk away.

Visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call the AARP Fraud Watch Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.