Beware: not so festive social media scams

Beware: not so festive social media scams

We’re now into the most crucial stage of Christmas festivities, where money and gifts are on the march…and social media is a conduit for both good and bad tidings. This is the absolute best time for social media scammers to make their move. A little confidence trick here, the promise of good cheer there, and someone is going to be out of pocket.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most prevalent social media scams doing the rounds. Please let any friends and family know about these if you think they may be at risk from them.

Likes and shares for chocolate hampers

Got a sweet tooth? People up to no good hope so. Facebook, WhatsApp, and possibly others, are currently experiencing fake Cadburys messages offering up non-existent goodies. Some of the missives are generic; others claim to be from specific managers at certain factory locations. Either way, people are asked to visit URLs to “Click and get yours” or enter a form of completion depending on the message.

These fakeouts have been doing the rounds since 2018, and possibly earlier. There’s no real need to come up with anything particularly sophisticated over the holiday season. People like cool free stuff, and fakers want to (not) give it to them. Sadly, all people will get here are surveys asking them to hand over information to marketers. Don’t waste your time.

Rare tickets for even rarer events

I can’t imagine there are many events taking place now, given the COVID-19 situation. However, that hasn’t prevented scammers from trying to take advantage. Messages on Facebook claim there’s been an accident, or death in the family, and they can’t make it to an event. They offer the tickets for sale on social media portals. The problem: the relatives don’t exist, neither do the tickets, and the event has been cancelled. Despite being offered at a discounted price, it’ll all be for nothing—quite literally—should you pay.

While “going fast, buy now to avoid disappointment” deals are spur of the moment purchases, this is one you’ll want to pass up. It might sound obvious to suggest checking the event is going ahead, but in the real world that isn’t how things pan out up against the clock. So fight the urge to score a last-minute bargain, and at least make sure the thing you’re booking is still actually happening.

Social media based sextortion

A bit of an odd one, as this is more typically the realm of IM/voice and video comms. Scammers encourage people to perform sexual acts on camera, then use the footage to blackmail money from those individuals. The linked article cites social media but doesn’t go into specifics. It’s possible the scammers pick their marks on social media platforms, before moving to IM/video elsewhere. Definitely worth a mention, just in case.

Steer clear of these fake brand ambassador roles

If you’re out there using your skills to promote products and brands on social media, watch out. Companies, bogus or otherwise, are offering fake products and services if you agree to promote their wares. Potential victims are typically offered “free” items, so long as they pay for shipping. As the linked article states, you’re better off avoiding anything where someone wants you to pay upfront for “free” items. Get networking with other influencers and don’t be afraid to ask others if a business doing outreach seems too good to be true.

Social media, down to the wire

With so many people keeping in touch during the pandemic via social media, it’s a veritable playground for scammers. The sheer weight of numbers means potential victims are never far away.

It’s entirely possible to have a good time and remain cautious, and unfortunately there’s just too many bad people out there to give us an alternative. They don’t care about ruining festivities, lives, bank accounts, or anything else, so it’s up to us to make sure confidence tricksters don’t gatecrash our party this Christmas.