Let’s face it, social media has taken over most of our time. We have our faces glued to our various devices - wondering what’s new in everybody’s life, regardless of if we are associated with them or not. Instagram in particular, is one of the most visually appealing social media platforms people use to share photos and videos. People use it to keep up with friends that probably just got a new haircut, celebrities in luxurious places, or something as simple as “food porn” that showcases exotic foods in stunning high quality shots. Despite all the interesting sights to see on Instagram, scammers still live behind the scenes just waiting on their next prey. Here’s what YOU should look out for so you can protect yourself and even your bank account.

Before I begin, I would like to note that scammers will generally have an Instagram page that has thousands of followers (fake) and posts to lure their victims by appearing more legitimate. This will be a recurring factor in all of these scams.

“Free” Exposure

Maybe you’re new to Instagram and want to grow your follower count to show off all the fantastical adventures you embark on. On paper it just sounds easy. Post a picture and hope to god that people will like it enough to follow you. Maybe try other tactics? Consistently schedule new content so people don’t get bored? There’s a lot of things really, but at the end of the day it takes a lot of time and effort. Here’s where the scammers get you.

A random account will follow you, direct message you about your wonderful posts, and ask to contact them if you want to be featured on their account to boost your followers quickly.

Easy enough, right?

What they leave out is that they ask a fee for that exposure. The fee is usually $30, give or take a few. They will request payment through various means such as PayPal. Once the payment has gone through, it’ll be hard to turn back now because PayPal doesn’t really have a protected policy for buyers and is almost impossible to get a refund. The scammer will block you so you wouldn’t be unable to warn others by leaving a comment on their posts. Now, you are left with no exposure and $30 short with no possible way of contacting them to get your refund back.

“Free” Stuff

Everyone loves free or close to free stuff. But the most important thing to remember is, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

Many of these types of scammers will have a page that is visually similar to big name brands like Lego or Ray-Bans for example to make it seem like they are part of that brand. They will direct message you about their free or 90% discounted products that will entice people to buy it. If you contact those pages for more information, the customer service responses are going to fake it until they make it in order for you to believe that they are credible resources. If you continue with the payment, they will ask you to pay using a different method such as Western Union because they are located through various countries and not just in the United States. Once they get that payment, you end up with nothing. Again, you get blocked and now you can’t get money or warn people either.

Recently, two good examples of similar scams would be “MensFashionEmpire” and “Sunny Co. Clothing”. Regardless if you think it’s a scam or just business, they’re not exactly promising you a free item as mentioned. These two companies have promoted their products on Instagram saying that they are free, but during the payment process, an additional $12 fee will hit you just for shipping per item and not per order. Some have claimed to get their products, but not in the quality consumers were hoping, and others didn’t get anything at all without the company providing assistance afterwards. If you go into the comments of these posts, you’ll find that many people complain about not getting their items.

Money Flipping

Who doesn’t want to make more money? It’s simple really, just give a money flipping account $200 and they’ll give $2,000 back! In reality, they’re the ones making the money and you’re left with less.

How does it work?

These “money flipping” accounts will have posts advertising how they can make your investment into larger than life returns for you in 24 hours. These posts will have hundreds of likes and comments from various other users saying “Thank you” implying that those users have used their tactics and successfully made money off of it.

DON’T FALL FOR IT.

Similar with the previous scams, these accounts will ask you to load up a prepaid card and will ask you to provide all the information regarding the card. Once they get that information, they will block you and will not be able to get your money back. Those accounts that commented “Thank you” were probably bots or fake accounts to make the scammers seem more legit.

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Warnings from False Instagram Staff

This one doesn’t require money involved, which is good in a way. But instead, your account will be hacked and won’t be able to access it.

There are Instagram accounts that will claim that they are administration of some sort and direct message you about “suspicious” activity on your account. They will notify that your account will be locked if you don’t follow a link in order to verify your data. That link will appear to be from Instagram, but there are noticeable differences that if you catch can prevent you from getting hacked. If you continue with it, you will be asked to provide your login data on what appears to be the Instagram login screen, but is not. If you somehow put in your information already without doing a Google search beforehand, you are screwed. You will be redirected to a different page saying that if you make any changes to your account within a 24 hour window, your account will be blocked. During this time period, the hackers will take the time to make changes to your own account and block you before you get the chance to react.

Fake Charity Accounts

Lastly, and one of the most recent scams in this year, is about the Sudan crisis going on in the Middle East. I’m not going to go over every political detail, but there is a lot of tension going on that are leaving the people of Sudan in a tough situation and in dire need of help.

I couldn’t even tell you which is the main Support Sudan page where it all stems from, but there are multiple charity Sudan pages providing similar content. They would ask users to like, comment, and share their posts to bring awareness, but also with every share the charity page promised to send food to those citizens in Sudan. You really can’t go wrong with providing help to a charity, unless you got the charity page a lot of followers while nothing is being done for those in Sudan. At least you’re somewhat aware of what’s going on internationally? Probably should research for yourself instead of relying on information from non credible sources though.

Now what?

With everything going on on social media, the most you can do is be aware of what people are offering you. Here are ways to prepare yourself.

1. Check the Instagram page

If you haven’t noticed, most of these scammers are disguised as highly influential sources with many followers and appealing posts. What you can do is see their followers! Most of those followers are probably fake with an occasional victim or two to make it look a bit more believable.

2. Google the company

You have the greatest tool known as Google. Find out and search the company. Try to find out if they are credible or if there’s any articles regarding them.

3. ASK!

You’re probably not the only one that fell for the scam. Usually on forums people would explain their similar encounters. These false Instagram accounts can block information off their pages, but not everywhere else on the Internet.

Getting prepared is the best thing that you can do to protect yourself from these encounters. Instead of cutting corners through these encounters to get that following you want, follow our link to see how you can grow your Instagram account and other platforms!

Learn more about how to use social media for your business.

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WITHOUT paying for it.

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