Scammers are malicious profiles used to scam the Internet. The number of schemes has grown so much that Instagram, in November 2018, took a stand against criminal profiles. The online environment ends up facilitating illegal actions, due to the difficulty of tracking the criminal and the lack of information on how to report. These profiles are more difficult to identify than a common fake, as they act as if they are real, posting photos, captions, stories and information that give legitimacy to the profile, which can be personal or institutional.
Instagram can have up to 95 million fake profiles
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The scammer is looking for some specific return, bank or personal information, money, passwords or some other valuable device. They usually act in two distinct ways: the first theft of information from links or URLs, a practice known as "phishing". The second is the approach of the victim, establishing a relationship of trust, which may present itself as a company, institution or as an applicant.
The "scam romance" (also known as "Catfish") when the criminal establishes a relationship with the victim. It can also be called the "Nigeria Coup" because it is commonly practiced by people from this country where the government has no way to track down criminals. After applying the scams, the suitors disappear and create new profiles, applying new scams to other victims.
Malicious people create fake profiles in dating apps to make 'Catfish or scam loving' Photo: Disclosure
Top Scam Scams
1. Offer of free products
In this type of scheme, scammers claim to offer free products to the victims. Alleged companies offer products or services in exchange for likes, shares or disclosures. To complete the delivery, they are asked to register and send personal information, such as the address and a contact email. Users thus have their information stolen. If they enter bank information, they may even have their card "stolen".
Fake profiles use Editora Saraiva's name, promise books and get thousands of followers Photo: Playback / Instagram
In this scheme, scammers impersonate Instagram platform agents and send the victims a "security message." It tells the victims that for security reasons I need to reset the password. By clicking on the message link, Internet users have their password stolen.
"Account verification" scam on instagram platform Photo: Playback / Scam Detector
3. Proof of authenticity
The victim receives a private message that is supposed to be from the Instagram platform, asking them to send personal photos to prove their Identity. Otherwise, your account is supposed to be deemed false and deleted. After sending, criminals take advantage of the ingenuity of the victim and appropriate the images, which can be used to create fake profiles.
The so-called "click farm" practice is to buy a service that increases the number of likes and followers, giving visibility to the profile. Scammers offer the victims service in exchange for a certain amount of money. In this scheme, users do not receive services and lose money. In some cases, they may even have your bank details stolen.
Scammers promise to increase followers but steal victims' bank data Photo: Playback / Instagram
5. Debt renegotiation company
Cybercrime consists of scammers pretending to be banking companies. They contact the "client" via Instagram for debt renegotiation. Internet users, believing that the debt will be written off, pay the value to the criminals. The victims end up losing the amount paid and remain with the active debt in the bank.
This practice is also known as "money flipping". An investment scam that promises the victims a quick financial return. Scammers ask Internet users to invest a certain amount and promise an instant profit. After the initial investment, they simulate the profit generated and ask the victim to pay a fee to receive. After the money transfer, they close the fake account and disappear.
According to the Action Fraud website, the period from October 2018 to February 2019, 356 cases were reported. The average amount stolen per person is 8,900 (approximately R $ 43,8423).
"Get rich quick" posts are a common type of Internet scam. Photo: Playback / Instagram
7. Online Dating with Strangers
In such a scheme, the scammer seduces and builds a loving relationship with the victim, usually female, through a fake profile. The criminals, after establishing a trust relationship, claim that they are in financial difficulty and ask for a certain amount of money. In some cases, they impersonate foreigners who need money to meet the victims. After receiving, they disappear.
Another method used is to tell the victims, who are sending a gift and then claiming that they got stuck in customs. At this point, they call their partners and ask for an amount to release it.
- Do not share personal or bank details with people, institutions or companies you do not know. To make payments, give preference to applications like Paypal and PagSeguro.
- When receiving a message from companies such as banking institutions, contact the company through official channels. Check if the company has actually contacted you or if it could be a scam. Also, do not click on links for suspicious activity or checks if you suspect their authenticity. Check out how to spot a phishing scam
- Beware of approaching strangers on the Internet, be suspicious if they ask for some financial aid and never send intimate photos. They can be used for blackmail, in a practice known as sextorso.
- As they are constantly switching accounts, it is a tip to identify a fake profile by checking the account creation date, the place of creation, how many times the user has changed names and how many similar profiles there are on the platform. Check it out as in the video below.
- In addition to following these tips, the user can also install PC and mobile applications that detect scammers, such as antivirus software that can automatically detect and block malicious profiles. After installing an antivirus of your choice, always keep programs up to date with the latest versions available for Windows, macOS and Linux operating systems.
How to report scammers