Bored with Twitter and Facebook, cryptocurrency scammers have seemingly moved on to invade Instagram.
Social media channels have become a breeding ground for cryptocurrency-related frauds that exploit users’ ignorance and itches for easy money.
While Twitter and Facebook have been fighting against cryptocurrency scams for years, Instagram seemed to remain relatively immune. People mostly use the service for sharing pictures and short videos as a quiet and safe place spared from the frantic activity of Twitter and Facebook.
However, still water runs deep, and the Swedes have learned it the hard way, as the country has been swept by a wave of cryptocurrency frauds on Instagram, Forbes reports.
What’s Going On?
The whole scheme is straightforward and as old as the hills. Scammers use Instagram to advertise luxury items. High-end clothing and electronic device brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Apple are being ‘sold’ for very lucrative prices from 50 to 300 Euros. Interested customers contact the seller via direct messages to negotiate the deal.
Scammers often create a sense of urgency, by trying to convince a potential victim that there are long queues of customers eager to buy the luxury item at a low price. In the end, they use various excuses to persuade the buyers to pay in cryptocurrency. For example, they may say they are moving between countries or changing bank service providers, and not able to accept fiat currency transfers.
Once a person transfers the coins, the seller stops answering messages and disappears from Instagram altogether. Needless to say, the buyer never receives the ‘purchased’ goods.
Who Is Under Attack?
Currently, this type of cryptocurrency scam is widespread in Sweden. People are surprisingly taking the bait even though Swedish law enforcement authorities and cryptocurrency exchange platforms have issued warnings and urge people to stay vigilant.
The wording of the advertisements and the types of goods being offered suggest that this particular scheme targets young people of about 25 years of age. The luxury items are usually displayed on a newly made profile with a significant share of new followers.
What’s Being Done?
Just like in any other cryptocurrency related scams, people are mostly left to themselves to deal with the issues. Due to the anonymity (or rather pseudo-anonymity) and irreversibility of cryptocurrency transactions, scammers are hard to track, and it is often next to impossible to get back the stolen funds.
Moreover, the police have many other cases on hand, which leads to further delays into an investigation and allows scammers to cover their tracks completely.
The Financial Intelligence Unit of the Swedish Police suggests that users should research these sellers more carefully before purchasing anything online or sending money to unknown people, and insist on paying with a debit or credit card. It this case, the charges will be able to be reversed if the goods are not delivered.
A leading Nordic Cryptocurrency Brokerage Platform has been flagging suspicious accounts while Instagram press services claim that they are fighting with this type of fraud as well.
[bctt tweet=”In reality, cryptocurrency users have no one to protect them from scammers and there is little the authorities can do to get their stolen funds back.” username=”beincrypto”]
Being your own bank is not always fun and games—it also comes with great responsibility.
Have you ever come across this type of scam on Instagram? What else can be done to weed out cryptocurrency scammers from social media? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!