(TNS) – A recent study ranked 10 social media apps and platforms where people are scammed the most online in 2021 – with Facebook leading the way.
The top 10 includes two social media platforms, two messaging services, a popular online game, and five dating apps.
SocialCatfish.com released the State of Internet Scams 2021 Study using data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A record $ 4.2 billion was lost to increasingly sophisticated online scams in 2020. New York is the # 2 most scammed state, with victims losing 415 million dollars. dollars, according to the data.
Scammers have gotten more sophisticated, attacking people where they least expect it, the online investigation service warns.
The researchers also included proprietary survey results after polling approximately 722 members of the Facebook group of SocialCatfish.com called social catfish researchers (CFS). This group is made up of Facebook users who have been scammed.
According to the study, the top 10 apps include: Facebook, with 152 victims; Google Hangouts. with 99 victims; Instagram, with 80; WhatsApp and Plenty of Fish had 50 each. Match, OurTime, Zoosk, Words With Friends and Tinder round out the top 10.
SocialCatfish offers these tips for avoiding the main scams:
1) Facebook Account Cloning: Scammers use your public profile photos and information to create a replica account. They ask your friends and family for money and send them malicious links which, if clicked, can steal their personal and financial information, leading to identity theft and financial ruin.
How to Avoid: Search the app and search engines regularly. If you are aware of a clone account, notify your friends and family and report it immediately to the Facebook help center.
2) Google Hangouts, Romance Scam: Romance scam artists meet victims on dating apps – but to avoid getting kicked from those apps, they move the conversation to Google Hangouts. They quickly fall in love with you, gain your trust, and start asking you for money and personal information until you have nothing left.
How to Avoid: If a dating app suitor wants to switch platforms, be vigilant and never send money.
3) Instagram, Fake Brand Giveaways: Scammers claim to be a respected brand with free product giveaways. You sign up and give out personal information, but never receive any product and end up with an empty bank account instead.
How to Avoid: Find and make sure this is the brand’s official Instagram account before entering.
4) WhatsApp, Hijack Scam: If you receive a six-digit verification code without asking for one, be alert. The crooks, who have already hacked your friends’ account, send you the code and say they need it to get back to their account. You unwittingly send them the code, allowing them to hijack your account. Then they ask your contacts for money and replicate the scam by pretending to be you and asking others for the code.
How to Avoid: WhatsApp says it will never send you a code for someone else. If one of your contacts asks you for a code, it is a scam.
5) Lots of Fish, Romantic Scam: Scammers are lurking on this dating app, using photos of beautiful models to lure victims. They claim to work overseas or be in the military as to why they can’t meet in person, and they leave the victims with empty bank accounts and broken hearts.
How to Avoid: Never send money to someone you’ve never met in person.
If you are the victim of a scam or attempted scam, report it to the FTC, IC3, FBI and IdentityTheft.gov.
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