Social Media is the Preferred Medium for Scammers
Social media is being used to lure new victims into an old get-rich-quick scam.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram users are advertising ways to turn $100 into $1,000 by “flipping money.” The pitch suggests investors can take advantage of quirks in the monetary system to leverage additional cash and turn a few hundred dollars into thousands. It’s as easy as sending in a prepaid debit card to a specific address.
Want proof? The websites come complete with pictures of happy investors posing with stacks of cash and testimonials about how easy it is to make money.
But fraud experts warn that the only people making money on this are the scam artists, who take the debit cards and never look back.
“You’re giving a prepaid debit-card number to someone you don’t know. (You’re) not sure how they’re going to flip the money, not sure if it’s legal or not,” Felicia Thompson, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern and Western Arizona, said. “Really, you’re not going to hear from them again because they have what they want.”
The BBB is one of several consumer-protection agencies warning of the scam. Authorities in several other states also have posted warnings about flipping cash. The National Consumer League details on its website, fraud.org, how the scam works.
Flipping scams are not new, but the use of social media and classified listings on Craigslist to promote them mark “a worrying trend,” according to the bulletin, because of the ease and speed with which victims are lured into the scheme.
“A recent complaint filed to fraud.org from a 26-year-old victim in California listed the scammer’s name, Martez Brands, and his phone number,” the bulletin said. “This information led to a website called OnInstagram, where the victim had originally found the scammer and eventually lost $300. Websites such as OnInstagram and Iconosquare are comprised of multiple pages of scammers’ profiles and postings about flipping money.”
The scheme is simple. The victim loads the debit card and then contacts the scammers, usually through a phone number or message, to provide the PIN. Once con artists have access to the cash, they often block “the victim from contacting them via social media network or phone number, according to fraud.org.
Still tempted? Consumer protection advocates suggest taking these steps before committing any cash:
• Do a quick search. Before making contact, do a Web search of their username or phone number. If it’s a scam, chances are that other victims have posted complaints and information online.
• Be wary of prepaid debit cards. Wire transfers used to be a scammer’s favorite way to collect payment, but prepaid debit cards are the new preferred method. Treat prepaid debit cards like cash. Once you give away the account info, you will not be able to get that money back.
• Don’t trust your online friends. It might not actually be them “liking” or sharing scam posts. Their accounts may have been hacked.