Top 4 Social Media Money Scams & How to Spot Them

Teresa Barthuly |

Believe it or not social media scams have been picking more pockets than any other scam today––including phone call and text fraud.1

There have been more than $2.7 billion in losses to social media scams between January 2021 and June 2023.2

And whether or not you’ve seen these cons in action, they don’t look the same today as they did even a year ago.2

They’re becoming more personalized and harder to detect from real opportunities.1

To help you spot and steer clear of the snake oil, here’s a closer look at today’s most common social media scams, their tactics, and red flags for spotting them.

1. Shopping & Discount Scams

Get the best deal on our super exclusive product, but only if you BUY NOW!

That’s the hard line many social media shopping scams proclaim. They entice eager shoppers with too-good-to-be-true offers. After taking the bait and making the purchase, the shopper gets nothing—or they’re sent a poor-quality item that doesn't match its advertisement.2

Tactics: Social media shopping scams usually rely on bait-and-switch tactics, often coupled with a sense of urgency, to get people to act fast, before putting too much thought into the purchase.2

Red Flags: If there’s no way to contact the seller or the product has zero reviews, take a closer look before you buy. Legitimate sellers tend to be more transparent both in how to get a hold of them and in their product reviews. Scammers are usually more vague.2

2. Investment Scams

Don’t miss out on this BIG opportunity to double or triple your money! But you must invest NOW.

These money-flipping scams typically promise extraordinary returns, with fast turnaround times. You just have to send your money overseas, buy certain crypto, or buy in on some “guaranteed” investment. Once you do, your money disappears just as fast as the con artists themself.2

Tactics: High-pressure sales tactics are usually behind social media investment scams. They tend to come with “proven” claims, “guarantees,” and limited-time offers that can poke at our fear of missing out (FOMO).2

Red Flags: Be suspicious of any investment opportunity on social media that touts all rewards and no risks. Avoid offers that require you to send money abroad, complete a wire transfer, or buy a prepaid debit card first. Legit investment opportunities are almost never 100% risk-free. So, second guess any investment offers that make those claims.2

3. Giveaway, Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams

You’ve been selected to WIN a FREE GIFT CARD for $1,000! Just click here to claim your prize in the next 5 minutes before it disappears forever!

Giveaway scams on social media can pop up suddenly, inviting you to click, like, and share a post before you can claim your prize. After you do, you won’t get money, though. Instead, you’re more likely to get malware or viruses that can steal your personal sensitive information and your money.2

Tactics: Surprise, bait and switch, and playing on a sense of urgency all come into play with sweepstakes and giveaway scams on social media.2

Red Flags: If you didn’t enter a giveaway, any “prize” you’re informed that you’ve won is probably not legit. Another red flag for these scams is a lack of contact information and no “official” organization behind the prize. Genuine giveaways will have ways to contact the organization associated with the prize, with published, verifiable rules and conditions for winning.2

4. Job & Earnings Scams

Earn BIGGER BUCKS and be your own boss when you work with us!

Huge paydays, mind-blowing benefits, and other lofty promises tend to be the lures with job scams on social media. They promise you millions, a better life, and more time—you just have to pay for the screening process, the “starter kit,” or the initial training. After you do, your money’s gone, and the smokescreen job offer vanishes too.3

Tactics: Phishing and bait-and-switch are common with social media job scams. They prey on lack, and their tactics tend to be more successful when the need for a job is particularly dire.3

Red Flags: Take a critical eye to job opportunities that hinge on payment requests. Real job offers do not require an upfront expense for screening, consideration, or placement.3

How to Protect Your Finances on & off Social Media

Social media is still somewhat elusive, especially when talking about facts and finances. This can make it a minefield for anyone who doesn’t know how to spot the scammers and avoid the cons. No matter what social media platforms you use or why you’re on them, staying up to date with the latest scams and swindling tactics can help you make smarter choices with your money. So can a financial professional.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2023/10/social-media-golden-goose-scammers
  2. https://us.norton.com/blog/online-scams/social-media-scams
  3. https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/job-scams