Scams seem to be unavoidable if you own a phone these days, but the number of Instagram scams has soared by 155% in the past year – according to analysis from Lloyds Bank.
Fraudsters are increasingly using the social media platform trying to con users out of their money. Contrasted with a fall in these types of scams carried out via Facebook and Snapchat, this suggests Instagram may be the new sphere for organised criminal gangs who perpetrate fraud on a mass scale, the banking giant said.
Victims of the scams lost around £336 each on average, Lloyds said. Those most likely to fall victim to an ‘insta-scam’ are around 18 to 24-years-old, on average, as reported by Liverpool Echo.
Michelle (not her real name) was contacted on Instagram by someone who said they worked at her local church. The message said that the church was trying to set up a charity abroad and needed some money to help with the set up.
Michelle believed that the message to be genuine as a link was provided to a page which had photos of people who worked at her church on it. She was asked to send money to the current account of someone she was told was the representative of the charity in the UK.
Michelle made three payments, totalling £500, before the church was alerted to the scam and got in touch with parishioners to let them know. Instagram lists 13 things its users should watch out for:
- People asking you for money who you don’t know in person
- People asking you to send them money or gift cards to receive a loan, prize or other winnings
- Anyone asking you to pay a fee in order to apply for a job
- Accounts representing large companies, organisations or public figures that are not verified
- People claiming to be from Instagram security asking you to provide account information (like your username or password), or offering you account verification services
- People asking you to move your conversation off Instagram to a less public or less secure setting, such as a separate email
- People claiming to have a friend or relative in an emergency
- People who misrepresent where they are located
- Messages that appear to come from a friend or a company you know that ask you to click on a suspicious link
- Accounts that have a brief history on Instagram
- Messages or posts with poor spelling and grammatical mistakes
- People or accounts asking you to claim a prize
- People or accounts that offer items at an extreme discount
Its website also issues the following advice: “If you see something you think is a scam, you should avoid responding and report the scam to Instagram. Bear in mind that your report is anonymous, except if you’re reporting an intellectual property infringement. The account you reported won’t see who reported them.”
Instagram also said is has over 40,000 people working on safety and security, including over 15,000 dedicated content reviewers, and use a combination of proactive detection technology and reports from our community to find and remove content that violates our policies.
It has also donated £3 million to Citizens Advice to help them set up a UK anti-online scams initiative for this purpose, which includes a telephone helpline for people who have been scammed online and face-to-face consultations for serious cases.