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Social media scams

Social media is a great place to meet people, but it's also where scammers look for targets.

What they are 

Social media scams happen when someone tries to get money or information from you through an interaction on social media – including dating sites. 

How they work 

In general, someone on social media will ask you for money or personal information. The reason for the request will vary. 

They may say they need help due to a personal emergency, they may recommend an investment, or say they are buying or selling something on a social media marketplace. 

Sometimes a scammer may have taken over the social media account of a person you know. Other times, a scammer may have created a copycat profile to pretend to be someone you know – whether that’s someone you know personally, or a celebrity.  

The account could also be completely fake and the person you think you’re talking to doesn’t exist at all. AI tools can be used to generate fake photos and profile text to create a realistic looking account. 

Common types 

Investment opportunities 

A scammer will befriend you on social media site or will take over the account of someone you know. They will tell you about how they have received large returns from a particular investment, like bonds, cryptocurrency or foreign exchange. They may share investment tips and appear to be living luxurious lifestyles due to their financial success.  

Once you have been lured into making an investment, they will often ask you to pay more and more. Eventually, they disappear with your money. 

Protect against investment scams

Help with an emergency 

You may receive a message that seems to come from a friend or family member saying they need money to help them replace a lost phone or to get home as they’re stuck somewhere with no access to funds. Or they may say that they need to pay for unexpected medical costs. However, the story is fake and a scammer is pretending to be the person you know. 

The scammer may contact you through the actual social media profile of the person you know, or they may send you a message from a new account or phone number. 

Marketplace scams 

This can happen with both buying and selling goods. 

Scammers will pretend to show interest in buying something you're selling. They will try to convince you they have paid – for example by showing you a fake screenshot of a bank transfer – so you will send the items, but the money will never arrive.  

A scammer may also pretend to be selling something on social media. You pay for the item, only for it to never show up or you receive the wrong item. 

Stay safe when shopping online