Instagram has become the world’s most popular destination for presenting and exchanging ideas. It’s a massive platform with over a billion active users, and scams are happening non-stop. The popularity of Instagram makes it an ideal place for cybercriminals to operate and constantly think of new ways to trick you and steal your money.
With a huge group of people connected via a network, it has also become the most prospective place for scammers to look for their victims. It becomes easy for these fraudsters to find links and connections through the social media handle.
The ultimate goal of the scammers is to either blackmail you for money in exchange for your account or defame you. A few common frauds are (a) Changing your password and locking yourself out of your own account. (b) Stealing personal data (i.e., phone number, email, and follower details etc). (c) Posting scam advertisements. (d) impersonate you and send malware-effected links to your followers. (e) impersonate you and send messages to your followers asking for money.
Few Instagram Frauds:
Phishing Scams – Scammers try to get access to your Instagram account by sending you suspicious links as an Instagram direct message or via email, where victims are tricked into giving username and password on a fake Instagram login page. Once the scammers have your login details, they can access and change your personal information (i.e. phone, email etc), and change your password to lock you out of your own account.
Few phishing tactics used are (a) Warning messages claiming to be official copyright infringement warnings from Instagram. (b) Fake influencer sponsors, scammers pretend to be an established brand and offer influencers an advertising deal. (c) Submission of KYC towards confirmation of the blue tick from Instagram. In all the above cases, you are provided short links and requested to provide your details.
Romance Scams – Scammers enter into a fake online relationship, maintain a constant conversation, and build trust with the victim over time, then start abusing their trust. Once the target is trapped, the scammer starts asking for money for visas, flights, travel expenses, hospital expenses, and more.
Giveaway Scams – Instagram influencers often give sponsored giveaways, offering free products or services to a few lucky winners. Followers have the opportunity to win designer clothes, expensive laptops, air pods, and so on. In order to receive the giveaways, the victim will need to pay a shipping fee or provide personal information that they can then use for illegal purposes.
Inauthentic Sellers – Selling counterfeit/ replica goods is a massive scam on Instagram, and it’s rampant across user accounts and Instagram advertising. They create an urgency (i.e. limited periods offers) to get buyers to act quickly, scammers mostly request payment through a non-secure methods.
Fake investment scams – Promise you a great return for just a small investment. Once the money is paid, the access provided (i.e., website or app) will look realistic and perform well, but it is totally fake and projects fake data that pretends your investments are performing well and which you will be unable to withdraw. Most of these are Ponzi schemes, initial coin offering and exit scams.
Selling Followers and Likes – We are often measured by how many followers and likes we have on our social profiles. Scammers have taken advantage of this, offering to get victims more likes and followers for a nominal price. Most of these promises never come true, or you have followers who unfollow you at the same rate.
Spot the Scammer on Instagram:
- Scammers have an unverified account yet claim they are affiliated with Instagram.
- Follow many accounts but have very less followers base.
- Have little engagement from followers.
- Having simple grammar or language errors.
- Most of the profiles are created recently.
- People asking you to send money (advance fee or registration fee) to receive a prize.
- The profiles feed quality is very poor.
- Asking you to collaborate on Direct Messaging instead from an official email accounts
- They communicate with free email account (i.e., Gmail)
Tips for staying safe on Instagram:
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).
- Have strong complex passwords (i.e., with numerical , capital letters and special characters).
- Shop only from verified brand accounts.
- Frequently monitor your login activity.
- Frequently review the third party access you have given.
- Log in directly on the Instagram and, never use unverified third party apps
- Check the short links at https://isitphishing.org/ and https://www.urlvoid.com/
- Configure your privacy settings. https://help.instagram.com/116024195217477
- Reporting in-appropriate content. https://help.instagram.com/192435014247952
- Reporting a hacked Page https://help.instagram.com/368191326593075
- Reporting Impersonation https://help.instagram.com/446663175382270
- Reporting Abuse and Spam – https://help.instagram.com/165828726894770
What to do if you are scammed on Instagram:
(a) Report the scam on Instagram. (b) Monitor your financial accounts. (c) Change your password. (e) Install Antivirus software on the gadget. (f) Freeze your credit. (g) If your problem is not resolved on Instagram, keep a copy of all the screen shots of the abuse / fraud and file a complaint at https://cybercrime.gov.in/ or contact your local police station. Alternatively, victims can call Helpline No. 1930, which is manned and operated by the respective State Police officers.