How Many Scams Are on Social Media?

It is a well-known fact that people adore social media. Whether it’s Facebook, which has more than 2 billion active users as of October 2018, Instagram, which has 1 billion users, or LinkedIn, which has 590 million users, each network provides a unique way to communicate with friends, family and strangers.

While these platforms allow us to connect with others, they can also be dangerous if we aren’t careful. Scammers abound on various social media platforms. Internet fraud has cost consumers and businesses more than $100 billion. The Better Business Bureau recorded 45,811 frauds in the United States in 2017 and 48,369 scams in 2018.

Scams are prevalent, but scammers utilize a variety of strategies. We’ve created an infographic on ten typical social media scams and how to recognize them to help you spot them and stop them from happening.

Table of Contents

Types of Scams on Social Media


Spoofing is when someone changes one letter, symbol, or number in an email address, sender name, phone number, or website URL to make you believe you’re communicating with a reputable source. You may, for example, receive an email that appears to be from your employer, a company with whom you’ve done business or even a family member, but it isn’t. Criminals hope to dupe you into believing these forged emails are legitimate, prompting you to download harmful software, send money, or divulge personal, financial, or other sensitive data.


Spoofing techniques are frequently used in phishing operations to entice you to take the bait. These ruses are designed to fool you into giving criminals information that they shouldn’t have. In a phishing scam, you may receive an email from a respected company requesting you to respond to the email or visit a website to update or verify your personal information. It’s possible that the web address is identical to the one you’ve seen previously. It’s possible that the email will persuade you to perform the required action.

When you click on that link, you’ll be taken to a spoof website that looks almost identical to the genuine thing—like your bank or credit card site—and requested to enter sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, banking PINs, and other personal information. These phony websites exist primarily to steal your personal data.

Scams using the lottery and free gift cards

Posts on social media frequently claim to be giving away free gift cards to major companies such as Starbucks, Target, and The Cheesecake Factory or announcing that you’ve won the jackpot. When you click on them, you’ll be led to a page where you’ll be asked to input your information in order to collect your prize. They may request a variety of information. They might ask for your phone number in order to bill your data rates in secret. A “lottery” post may ask for your banking information in order to transmit your money, but they may instead take it from you.

Products with a Free Trial

People are frequently enticed to join up for free trials on products through social media platforms. These scams usually include the victim signing up for a free trial of a product that isn’t actually free and then being asked to supply their credit card information upfront. Unbeknownst to the victim, they are then locked in to a fixed-term contract and have given their credit card information to an unknown individual.

Aid or Emergency Messages

This scam includes users receiving messages from people on their “friends” or “contacts” lists claiming to be in difficulty in a foreign nation and needing assistance. This letter frequently instructs them to send money to a bank account in another nation. The messages’ content varies, but the most common ones claim that the person has been detained and needs money for bail or that they have been ill and require money for hospital treatment. Email is also used to perpetrate these scams.

Scams Involving Gossip

“Secret revelations about Michael Jackson’s death!” may read an ad like this. This form of con preys on the public’s interest in celebrity news. When the user clicks, they are directed to a website that instructs them to download the most recent version of Adobe Flash. It is a bot Trojan or other malware, not an application, that is being downloaded.

Scams in Healthcare

False Medicare or social security advertisements are a common example. These businesses provide services such as a rectified social security card with the person’s married name, a replacement social security card, a social security statement, or a child’s social security number. To appear authentic, these companies may have profiles that include the Medicare logo. They impose a price on benefits that can be obtained for free from Social Security.

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