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Fraud Watch: Social Media Scams | Opinion

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Fraud Watch: Social Media Scams | Opinion

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Do you recognize the names Kuaishou, QZone, or Sina Weibo? Maybe not, but most people around the world at least recognize most of these: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok. Welcome to the growing world of social media. User numbers are astounding. Facebook alone identifies nearly two billion people accessing its “service” daily; that is almost one-quarter of the population of the planet and does not include those who only open their Facebook account five times a week. Add the other media services and I think you understand why I use the word astounding. Social media is a gold mine for scammers.

In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission reported losses of greater than three-quarters of $1 billion to social media scams; almost 100,000 victims. Those numbers are just from the FTC and don’t include what is reported to other agencies or state governments, let alone what is not reported. Online shopping and investment scams account for the majority of social media scams, along with romance scams.

Almost one-half of the scam complaints received by the FTC involved online shopping; attractive ads promoting in-demand items at low prices from brand name companies. Facebook and Instagram accounted for nearly 90% of the fraudulent ads. Criminals even used the services provided to advertisers that allow for commercial targeting based on…

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