Stay Vigilant: Social Media Users Lost ‘At Least’ $770M To Scammers In 2021
By Alexa Heah, 28 Jan 2022
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission published a startling report detailing that more than 95,000 people fell victim to scammers on social media last year, collectively losing at least US$770 million.
The paper said that reports from 2021 indicate bad actors had turned towards social media as their primary way of contacting unsuspecting victims during that period.
More than one in four people who lost money to fraud said the scams started on social media, either with an advertisement, post, or message. Worse still, the report noted this method was the most profitable for scammers.
According to PetaPixel, the US$770 million cited made up a quarter of all the money stolen through fraud in the year, and was eight times more than losses in 2017.
Additionally, as not all incidents are reported to authorities, the real number could be much higher.
“Reports are up for every age group, but people 18 to 39 were more than twice as likely as older adults to report losing money to these scams in 2021,” the report noted.
The agency posited that these bad actors were more successful on social media due to the ease of creating fake profiles or hacking into existing accounts to give the illusion of credibility.
“There’s the ability to fine-tune their approach by studying the personal details people share on social media,” explained the FTC.
“In fact, scammers could easily use the tools available to advertisers on social media platforms to systematically target people with bogus ads based on personal details such as their age, interests, or past purchases,” it added.
CNET reported that to stay vigilant, the agency recommended limiting the number of people who can view posts and activity on the various platforms.
The scams that tricked users out of the most money appeared to be fake investment opportunities or of romantic interest, lowering the victims’ guard by appealing to their emotions.
To decrease the risk of being targeted, start opting out of targeting advertising and be more cautious when approached by individuals online.
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