Fake romance, influencer scams thriving on Instagram

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Fake romance, influencer scams thriving on Instagram

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS)  Facebook-owned Instagram has seen a surge in frauds on its platform that were up by 50 per cent since the pandemic began, and scams related to romance, phishing and influencer sponsors top the chart, a new report said.

According to Sophos Naked Security, part of the cybersecurity firm Sophos, the scamming on Instagram has worsened over the past year.

“Phishers try to get access to your Instagram account by sending you a suspicious link, either as an Instagram direct message or via email, where you are then tricked into putting in your username and password on a fake login page,” the researchers said in a statement.

Once the crooks have your login details, they can access your personal information and even change your password to lock you out of your own account.

Scammers are also taking advantage of the rise in influencers on social media to exploit the influencers themselves.

“These scammers pretend to be an established brand and offer influencers an advertising deal. If the influencer is unlucky enough to believe that the deal they are receiving is legitimate, they may hand over their personal banking details in order to be ‘paid’ by the brand,” the report noted.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has seen more than 1 billion accounts opened, and users on the service share close to 100 million photos every day.

Romance scams are also witnessing a surge on the platform.

Here, fraudsters enter into a fake online relationship, often speaking with their targets for weeks, months or even years to earn and then to abuse their trust.

Once the target is ensnared, the scammer starts asking for money for visas, flights, travel expenses and more. But there’s always an excuse why the scammer wasn’t able to get the visa, or board the flight, or do whatever they said they would.

“Sudden travel restrictions due to Covid-19 regulations have apparently become a popular excuse during the coronavirus pandemic. The scammer will continue asking for money for as long as the person at the other end continues to send it,” the researchers noted.

Don’t use the same password as you do on any other sites, they urged.

“If you think you may have given away your password on a fake site, change it as soon as you can before the crooks do. Consider using a password manager if you don’t have one already,” the researchers advised.

“As much as it seems to be common to share a lot of your life on Instagram nowadays, you don’t have to give away everything about yourself. Also think about who or what is in the background of your photos before you upload them,” they added.