- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Online fraud and identity theft prevention efforts are often focused on people who have less experience and knowledge of the internet, such as the elderly. However, even the most technologically savvy people can fall victim to scams. Scammers’ latest hunting ground for these younger victims is Snapchat, a popular social media app that allows users’ messages and images to disappear after they’ve been received. This makes it particularly popular, and dangerous, for teenagers who hope to avoid their parents’ prying eyes.
The best defense against scams is staying informed, so here is some information on the tactics used by fraudsters and how to avoid them.
Types of Snapchat Scams:
- Fake money-making opportunities. These scammers usually use a hacked account of a friend to contact you. Then will pitch an advertising gig, sponsorship, or some other kind of money-making proposition. Scammers will ask for some money to get started, and then for your log-in information so they can “promote this advertising opportunity to your other friends.” Once these are provided, they will lock your account, take your money, and never talk to you again.
- Friend account recovery scams. These scammers claim to be a friend who is locked out of their account. They will ask for your login information so they can find their login information. Once they have access to your account, they will change the password and demand payment for you to regain access to it.
- Email account recovery scams. This is a phishing scam where scammers send you emails telling you to unlock your account through a link they provide. When you click on that link, it looks like the usual Snapchat login screen. However, it is actually a fake site where they can record any information you enter and use it to steal your account as well as any other personal information entered.
- Snapchat premium scams. This scam involves accounts that post images and videos of girls in sexually suggestive poses, and then ask users to pay them for “premium” content of the girls fully nude or performing sex acts. No matter how much you pay them they will not actually provide this content.
- Meet-up scams. These are like Snapchat premium scams, except that instead of promising to provide adult content, the scammers promise in-person dates in return for money. It is still likely that they will never actually meet up with you and if they do, it will likely lead to even greater extortion.
- Romance scams. These scams usually start on dating sites, but to keep their accounts on those sites active and unblocked, scammers may ask you to chat on Snapchat. These scammers use fake photos and videos of good-looking people and trick you into thinking you’re talking with the person in the images. These scammers try to make you feel like you have a real romantic connection with the person you think you’re talking to, and then start asking you for money.
Avoiding Snapchat Scams:
- Don’t open emails that claim your Snapchat account is locked, and don’t click on links in them if you do.
- Don’t look for dates or online romances on Snapchat.
- Never send money to anyone you meet via Snapchat.
- Don’t pay for access to premium content or sign up for sites that are linked to on Snapchat.
- Don’t click on any unknown links you get sent on Snapchat.
- Check with friends to make sure they weren’t hacked if you start to receive any messages from their accounts asking you for sensitive info.
- Block any accounts that seem off or ask you for personal info.
If you think that you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam or if you have witnessed any suspicious behavior, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov and the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.