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Identity Theft & Fraud Awareness

Social Media Scam

Social media platforms have become a popular way to stay connected to friends, family, and your favorite sports & entertainment figures. Unfortunately, scammers have also turned to the digital universe to connect with you and your bank accounts. And they don’t spare your children, so have a conversation with your family about the Social Media Scam.

What is the Social Media Scam?

Like many scams, the Social Media Scam tries to build and exploit your trust through popular online channels. The scammer feigns either job offers, emergency situations, or romantic intentions toward you and then tries to obtain financial or personal information, such as:

  • Access to your bank accounts
  • Access to credit cards
  • Passport information
  • Access to e-mail accounts
  • National Identification numbers

Alternatively, scammers might play on your trust to cash bad cashier’s checks and wire them the proceeds; they might attempt to convince you to commit financial fraud, or to commit fraud to help them secure citizenship; or they might simply ask you to wire funds to them.

Where Does the Social Media Scam Happen?

The Internet. Scammers will exploit dating sites or social media platforms, often creating false identities through altered or fake photos. This is known as ‘catfishing.’

What Do I Watch For?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Be wary of ‘sob stories’, such as requests for help with medical bills or other financial emergencies. Be skeptical of offers to share untapped wealth, such as gold bars, or cashing a check, and don’t rush to pay for passports or plane tickets so your ‘soulmate’ can join you.

How Do I Protect Myself?

Social media scammers troll the online world, looking for personal information they can exploit. Be mindful of what details you share online. If you do make a connection with someone, the FBI provides the following advice:

  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
  • Go slow and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to go “offline.”
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.

What Do I Do If I’m Victimized?

If you are the victim of a social media scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, and notify your financial institutions immediately, so that they can protect your accounts.