Joanne the Scammer 

Watch out, Instagram scams are coming for us all

It's not just boomers getting tricked into pyramid schemes.

by Jenna Mahale
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12 April 2022, 10:30am

Joanne the Scammer 

The power of social media is immeasurable, and only growing stronger as we continue to voluntarily feed it information about the casual intimacies of our lives and images of yassified Bernie Sanders. So it’s not the biggest surprise that — in our present financial hellscape — that power is increasingly being used for, well, online theft.

A new report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has said that, in 2021 alone, over 95,000 people in the country reported losses due to fraud on social media totalling $770 million (that’s £568,209,950 if you’re nasty/English). “More than one in four people who reported losing money to fraud in 2021 said it started on social media with an ad, a post, or a message,” wrote the study’s author, Emma Fletcher.

“The data suggests that social media was far more profitable to scammers in 2021 than any other method of reaching people.” In fact, social media scams accounted for 25% of all reported fraud cases that year. If you are someone who needs just one more reason to do a Lorde and throw your smartphone into the sea, here it is.

But if you’re of the mind that getting conned online is just boomer culture, think again. Despite the general assumption that the elderly are the most vulnerable to these types of scams, the data showed that people aged 18 to 39 were more than twice as likely to lose money to them as opposed to older adults.

“For scammers, there’s a lot to like about social media. It’s a low-cost way to reach billions of people from anywhere in the world. It’s easy to manufacture a fake persona, or scammers can hack into an existing profile to get ‘friends’ to con,” the report continues, breaking down how hustlers can manipulate the tools for advertisers built into platforms, deploying “bogus ads based on personal details such as their age, interests, or past purchases.”

Precautions you can take to stay safe online include opting out of targeted advertising (if the platform, you know, lets you), limiting who can see your posts, and calling to check with your friends if they suddenly message with an opportunity buy whole sale price Ray-Bans. That and keeping far, far away from cryptocurrency. It's just not a good idea!

Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more on social media and scammers.

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