A report by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals that social media scams have resulted in reported losses of $2.7 billion since 2021, surpassing losses from any other contact method . This highlights the need for increased awareness and caution when engaging with social media platforms.
According to the FTC’s research, online shopping scams are the most frequently reported on social media , accounting for 44% of reports related to fraud in buying or selling products online . Many victims reported not receiving items they ordered after responding to ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram . Additionally, scams promoting bogus investment schemes accounted for the largest overall losses , making up 53% of reported losses in the first half of 2023 . Cryptocurrency was often used as payment in these investment scams . Romance scams were the second-most reported scam on social media . Criminals employ various techniques, such as creating fake personas, hacking into profiles , and tailoring their approach based on information shared on social media .
Social media scams surpass other methods of communication, such as websites , phone calls  , and emails  , in terms of the majority of money lost to fraud . To mitigate the risk, the FTC advises consumers to limit their social media visibility and to contact individuals directly by phone if they receive messages asking for money . The report also highlights that social media scams affect people of all ages , but younger internet users are particularly vulnerable . Users are advised to limit their profile posts and information, be cautious of friend requests asking for money , never send money to someone they’ve never met , and research companies before making purchases  .
It is important to note that the reported losses of $2.7 billion may be lower than the actual harm, as many cases of fraud go unreported  . Scammers often pose as successful investors and trick people into investing in fake apps or websites with promises of high returns . The prevalence of romance scams on social media is also emphasized, where strangers befriend individuals and then ask for money .
The impact of social media scams is significant, with reported losses reaching billions of dollars. To protect themselves, individuals should exercise caution, limit their social media visibility , and verify the legitimacy of companies and individuals before engaging in transactions. The FTC’s recommendations , such as contacting individuals directly by phone and being wary of friend requests asking for money, can help mitigate the risk. As social media continues to play a prominent role in our lives, it is crucial to remain vigilant and informed to prevent falling victim to scams.