SAN ANTONIO — For many, social media is an essential part of our lives. We use it to stay in touch, make friends, shop, and for entertainment. Yet, social media also has a dark side. Schemers increasingly lurk on it to con you.
A new report from the Federal Trade Commission shows social media is one of the most profitable places for fraudsters. People reported $770 million in fraud losses that started on social media last year. Here are the schemes where people lost the most money on social media:
- Bogus cryptocurrency investments: More than half of these schemes started on social media. People sent money on the promise of huge returns but ended up with an empty wallet.
- Romance schemes: 30 percent of people said the relationship began on Facebook or Instagram. It often starts with a friend request from a stranger. It turns to sweet talk and then a request for money.
- More people than ever also reported being schemed when they tried to buy something on social media, mostly Facebook or Instagram. People saw an ad, placed an order, and then never got the merchandise or got something very different.
Social media is a low-cost way to reach billions of people around the world. It is easy to make a fake profile. Fraudsters can fine-tune their approach by studying the personal details you post.
Here is how to protect yourself:
- Limit who can see your posts by going to your privacy settings.
- Double-check if you get a message from a friend about an opportunity or asking for money. Call or text them and see if they really sent it.
- Do not pay by cryptocurrency, gift card, peer-to-peer cash transfer apps, or wire transfer. This is how schemers ask you to pay because you cannot get your money back.
- Never, never send money to someone you have never met.
- Before you buy, take time to check out the company by doing a search for the company name plus the word “scam” or “complaint.”
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