With the creation of every new social media platform comes a new way to scam the people using them. Facebook is one of the biggest problem sites, but these days, Instagram has become a big problem for scams of all kinds. Scammers use fake accounts to trick people into sending money for fictitious causes like sick relatives, animals that need help or even crowdsourcing projects. The biggest Instagram scams of all, however, are romance scams.
Instagram romance scams are a popular way to trick unsuspecting victims out of their money. Creating fake profiles is easy, and it’s incredibly easy to access suitable victims.
In order to protect yourself from Instagram romance scammers, you need to arm yourself with information about what to watch for and what to avoid.
Things To Know about Instagram Romance Scams
How Instagram Romance Scams Work
Just like any other romance scam, Instagram romance scams involve scammers trying to trick victims into sending them money.
With a site like Instagram, it’s easy to start a conversation with someone by first liking their posts, and then reaching out via Direct Messages to take the conversation private. The scammer will claim to be someone who shares interests with the potential victim. The scammer will likely have an account that reflects the common interests. For example, he might be a dog enthusiast who reaches out because a victim has lots of dog photos.
Scammers are able to cast a wide net, reaching out to dozens, even hundreds, of potential victims to see if anyone responds. It’s not uncommon for them to operate several scams at the same time.
Once a victim responds to a direct message, the scam begins. It starts out innocently enough, with the scammer striking up a friendship with the victim. If the victim is open to their romantic advances, the scammer pretends to be the perfect partner. Even though Instagram isn’t considered a traditional online dating platform, the fact that it connects people makes it the perfect place for people with like interests to meet each other.
As soon as the scammer develops a trusting relationship with the victim the scam begins. The scammer will suddenly ask for money, often with the explanation that something unexpected happened that puts them in a difficult financial situation. He might claim his dog is sick, knowing that his victim loves dogs. Soon there are all kinds of requests for money coming in.
As with any romance scam, any time someone you don’t know starts asking for money it should be a red flag.
Instagram romance scams are problematic because you never really know that you’re talking to the person you think you’re talking to because there’s no way to verify an account unless it’s an official business or celebrity account. There are so many fake accounts that it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Generally speaking, if someone you don’t know contacts you, then proceed with caution.
As soon as the conversations start getting personal, be even more careful. It could be innocent and you might be communicating with a genuinely good person. However, odds are good that you could be dealing with a scammer.
The final red flag comes when the scammer asks for money. At first it will be a small amount, but over time the requests will be more specific, often defying logic. If your friend needs plane tickets and asks to send money to someone in another state to purchase those tickets on his behalf, then he’s trying to get you to send the money to someone who will launder the money so that the trail becomes even harder to follow.
No Security On Instagram
Instagram is not an online dating platform. Though people have met on the social media platform, it wasn’t designed to fulfil that function and so there are no security measures in place to protect you.
There is no verification system with Instagram like the kind you would find on a site like eHarmony or Match to ensure that the person you’re talking to is the person he claims to be. That means that it’s up to you to stay safe on your own, but without any way to verify someone’s identity this is easier said than done. If the person that contacts you wants to take your friendship to the next level, propose a phone call. If he won’t call, then it’s likely because he’s not who he says he is.
Make sure you report fake profiles to Instagram when you encounter them, and block people that you find to be suspicious.
How To Protect Yourself From Scammers
There’s nothing inherently wrong with people you don’t know contacting you on Instagram. Social media is meant to bring people together, but the unfortunate side effect is that there will always be people trying to trick you.
The first rule is to never give out personal information to strangers. You wouldn’t do it with a stranger on the street, so why do it with a stranger on the internet? If someone you have been talking with privately on Instagram starts asking for money, you know something is wrong.
And if he threatens you for not sending money, know that you can go to the police and receive protection. The fact of the matter is that the scammer is likely an ocean away given that so many scammers are based in African nations, with Nigeria being one of the biggest exporters of romance scammers.
The only way someone asking for money could be legitimate is if the person had a GoFundMe for a verifiable situation like a car accident or emergency, and this is something that could be traced through the crowdsourcing platform. But again, this would be a very rare exception. It’s so much easier for these situations to be scams.
Could You Be A Victim Of An Instagram Romance Scam?!
It is important that you perform a quick background search on who you are actually speaking to on the internet (you can do that here). The common questions that spring to mind are:
- Are they using fake identities?
- Am I really speaking to a real person from the USA?
To help the users of this site we have partnered with BeenVerified so you can check exactly that. This checking service reveals everything about this would be romance scammer and if they are a real person!
Helpful Information Available on BeenVerified:
- Criminal Records (Please check this!)
- Photos (Helps check if same photos are used for multiple profiles with different names)
- Email Addresses
- Phone Numbers
- Social Profiles (IMPORTANT – Do they have a real social profile or multiple)
- Home Addresses
- Relatives & Associates
- Sex Offenders Register (Be safe who you are meeting!)
- And More…
If you have the slightest doubt about who you are speaking to… Please use this service!
How Do You Avoid Scams on Instagram?
Never Buy Followers
If you’ve been on social media for more than a while, at least a few times, you’ve likely been followed by a foreign account of some sort. Often, these accounts have something in their name, such as “Click link in bio for 5,000 followers”.
This is almost always a scam that returns zero on investment and commonly results in money taken with zero results– a scam.
Sometimes, though, you may get exactly what you pay for — followers. Unfortunately, these followers are rarely genuine. They’re often just fake accounts made by the scammer.
These kinds of followers are dead weight, with zero engagement, which may actually hurt your stats on social media. If you see anything offering followers, it’s best to avoid this at all costs.
Another common scam on Instagram is phishing scams. Phishing links, which are the scam’s bread and butter, work by mirroring a particular website. So, for example, you may attempt to login to purchase a product on Instagram after clicking a link sent to you.
The link may appear as a PayPal sign-in page, asking for your details to log in so that you can pay. However, the website is simply a mirror, so any info you input is sent directly to the scammer. In some cases, it can be as easy as looking at the link.
If it’s a PayPal link, then it should be https://PayPal.com/ and nothing else. If you see a different world in the link, such as X before PayPal, it’s undoubtedly a scam. The links can mirror any site, as the scammer simply copies the code.
This is also a common scam on Instagram. In most cases, these “giveaways” attempt to mirror the identity of someone famous or someone who simply has a lot of followers, such as a social media influencer.
The scam post or message may explain that they’re doing a giveaway and that if you win, you pay shipping cost; the catch is that you never receive anything. Worst yet, it may ask you to buy credits or slots to enter, but you’ll never actually win.
These scams are typically straightforward to catch; just visit the verified page of the person whom the scam is claiming to be. If there is no talk of a scam, then report the scam page and alert the person whose identity is being used.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get scammed on Instagram?
Yes, scams are currently running rampant on Instagram. The scams come in all types of different forms. The most common are the three noted above, although you should also watch for imposters, such as family members who may ask for money. To be better protected, take advantage of two-step verification on all of your accounts.
Can you be hacked through Instagram direct message?
Yes, you can be hacked through DMs, although a bit of action on your end is needed too. For the scammer to be successful, you’ll need to click the link that’s been sent to you. This may be an account mirroring Instagram, asking you to reset your password. By doing this, you send your account login details directly to the scammer.
What can you do if you’ve been phished on Instagram?
If you have been phished on Instagram, the first thing you should do is change your password. Not only will this help, but it will also automatically sign out all other devices from the account. It’s a good idea to change the password to your email as well. Moreover, consider changing the password to your other accounts, primarily if you use the same password elsewhere.
The Bottom Line
Instagram is a wonderful platform to share photos and talk about your experiences with people who share your interests. It’s unfortunate that there are people out there who would use it to prey upon unsuspecting victims, but that’s how life is as the internet grows with every passing day.
It’s important to be smart when people you don’t know contact you. There have even been cases of people impersonating celebrities who reach out to fans on Instagram asking for donations to their charities.
The only way to stop the Instagram romance scammers is to stop them before they take advantage of you by doing a quick background search. There is no one watching out for you in these situations, so make sure that you remain vigilant and always be wary of anyone who starts sending you private messages.
The old adage is true: It’s better to be safe than sorry.